Long Live the Queen

By Cassandra Harris-Lockwood

Aretha brought the music of our lifetime. She framed it. She claimed it. She brought it with an unabashed authenticity and integrity. She delivered it with such power and authority that her music was recognized around the world. She was an American icon and she was our Queen of Soul.

Known internationally for her music Aretha quietly moved mountains behind the scenes. Her financial support of the Civil Rights movement was instrumental and multidimensional.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson stated, “When Dr. King was alive, several times she helped us make payroll. On one occasion, we took an 11-city tour with her as Aretha Franklin and Harry Belafonte…and they put gas in the vans. She did 11 concerts for free and hosted us at her home and did a fundraiser for my campaign. 

Aretha has always been a very socially conscious artist, an inspiration, not just an entertainer. She has shared her points of view from the stage for challenged people, to register to vote, to stand up for decency.”

One of the most striking examples of Franklin’s commitment to Civil Rights was when she offered to post bail for revolutionary activist and scholar Angela Davis in 1970. 

This is from an interview with Jet Magazine, “Angela Davis must go free. Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people – they’ve made me financially able to have it – and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”

Aretha will long be remembered as a musical legend however, her influence upon and commitment to her people continues to sustain us even today. Long live the Queen.

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