National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial issued the following statement in response to the death of Aretha Franklin:
“If you could choose one artist to embody the African-American experience of the 20th Century, it would have to be Aretha Franklin. In her voice, you can hear the impassioned call-and-response preaching style of her father, C. L. Franklin, a civil rights leader and ally of Martin Luther King, Jr. You can hear the eclectic bustle of her childhood home in Paradise Valley, Detroit, the heart of the post-war Black community. You can hear the social awakening of the 1960s, when she made her mark and became an international star.
“Aretha’s songs became anthems of feminism and racial justice – not because of their lyrics, but because it was Aretha singing them.
“She has said her performance at the Kennedy Center in 2015 was ‘one of the three or four greatest nights of my life,’ not because she was honoring Carole King, the composer of her signature song, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” but because she made President Obama cry. She crowed, ‘The cool cat wept!’
“We all did. And we do now. We join her family, the nation and the world in mourning her loss.”
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