Rev. Al Sharpton’s fiery speech at Friday’s homegoing ceremony for Aretha Franklin in Detroit was an unquestionable highlight from the star-studded, multi-hour event. Sharpton spoke passionately about Franklin’s contributions to society, and black culture in particular:
“All her life, she supported the causes. She was a feminist before feminism was popular. She was a civil rights activist when it wasn’t popular. She gave us pride, and she gave us a regal bar to reach. And that’s why we’re all here. We don’t all agree on everything, but we all agree on Aretha.”
He also hit back at Donald Trump’s response to Franklin’s death earlier this month, part of which included the claim that, “She worked for me on numerous occasions.” In response, Sharpton said:
“You know, the other Sunday on my show, I misspelled ‘respect.’ A lot of y’all corrected me. Now, I want y’all to help me correct President Trump to teach him what it means. And I say that because when word had went out that Miss Franklin passed, Trump said, ‘She used to work for me.’ No, she used to perform for you. She worked for us. Aretha never took orders from nobody but God.”
This, naturally, was met with rapturous applause and, via some members of the audience, a standing ovation.
Another highlight occurred after Ariana Grande performed a rather whatever rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and Bishop Charles Ellis III, who is co-officiating the ceremony, joked, “When I saw ‘Ariana Grande’ on the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell.”
Rev. Ellis then called on the audience to make Grande “feel loved” and called her an icon in her own right. Sharpton’s response to the performance was less charitable.
Update: Bishop Charles H. Ellis III has apologized for his Taco Bell joke, as well as for touching Ariana Grande’s breast while addressing her onstage. (Noe that the feed Jezebel used to watch Aretha Franklin’s homegoing had a chyron that mostly obscured his hand’s placement, thus we did not initially catch it.)