BY CASH MICHAELS OF THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
Since the death of the “undisputed Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin at the age of 76, the glowing, heartfelt tributes have come from all over the world.
But here in North Carolina, the Rev. Dr. William Barber, former president of the NCNAACP, and currently president of Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for a Moral Revival,” has a special memory of the music icon.
“I will never forget receiving a call from Aretha after I had spoken at the Democratic National Convention [in 2016],” he recalled. “Thinking that it was a joke or prank, I asked, “Is this really Aretha Franklin?”
“She asked, ‘Is this really Rev. Barber?’
“When I realized that it was her, I shouted like a kid!’ Dr. Barber said. “She asked , ‘Will you come and preach for a community service that I’m having at my father’s church?’
Immediately my answer was, ‘Yes!’
Dr. Barber adds that from time to time, he had the opportunity to call her and send texts, and recorded messages of encouragement and prayer. “Every call began with , ‘Is this really Aretha Franklin?,” [and she’d respond,] ‘is this really Rev. Barber?,’ “…a playful exchange that occurred as though we had known each other a long time when in actuality, we had only recently met.”
“Our deep prayers and love are with the family as Sister Aretha sings and dances on the rhythms of grace, into the Glory of God’s presence, where she joins the heavenly choir,” Rev. Barber concluded.
Ms. Franklin’s funeral will be held August 31st in Detroit, the hometown that she loved deeply and would not move from, according to her publicist.
A service for family and friends will be held at 10 a.m. that morning at Greater Grace Temple.
Public viewings will be held August 28 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit.
Franklin will be entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.