The Queen of Soul sang before the King of soul force. She lifted every voice by raising her own not in hatred but in love, not in the misery of segregation but in the majesty of integration, not in a nightmare of sorrow but in her resolve to end a long night of suffering. She knew the daybreak would come and the mourning would end; that the words would echo from every hill and valley; that the sermons would live and the dream would never die, because neither an assassin nor an army could stop the march for jobs, justice, and freedom.
Aretha Franklin sang beautifully—and her soul shines brightly—thanks, in part, to her roots in the house of the Lord. Her father was a preacher. She was fluent in the parables of Christ and the Book of Proverbs. She was as at home in the churches of the North as she was in the church choirs of the South. She was a choir unto herself when she sang in memory of a drum major for peace and righteousness.
If she was tired, she never said it. If she was weak, she never showed it. If she was lonely, she is no more.
She is with the King she eulogized in song. She is with the King of Kings she worshipped in this world, whose kingdom is not of this world.
She cried when she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She cried, I believe, for the blessed voice God gave her and the blessings of liberty for which it was no man’s right to give or deny. She cried, I believe, for the goodness of her fellow citizens and the greatness of the land she loved.
Aretha Franklin earned the respect of her countrymen and the adoration of her fans.
She was a great American.
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