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CNN NEWSROOM

Funeral of Aretha Franklin; Eulogy by Rev. Jesse Jackson; Fantasia Barrino Taylor Singing "You've Got A Friend". Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 31, 2018 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Stand, please. Three of my children are here because this is a family affair. My son, Jesse Jackson, Jr. Dr. Jackie Jackson. It is a holy privilege to stand before you today, painful to stand before Aretha. Our celebration. I want to honor the family's wishes and keep my remarks as brief as I can, but it is about reflections. I want to give room for Reverend Williams, one of the most profound preachers of our time, the journal was conducted by Reverend Williams and maintains authority in the family. The next phase of the phenomenal Aretha Franklin. There's much to be said and done, built on this legacy that is not appropriate to say today. Such calls another unplanned family reunion. We wouldn't be here if Aretha was not here today. We give death too much power. We should call together a meeting like this and share. I watch the long lines at the museum, Rosa Parks, long lines for Aretha and long lines today. We have long lines to celebrate death and short lines for voting.

We lost Michigan by 11,000 votes. 100,000 in Detroit unregistered. Long lines at the death of the icons, short lines, something is missing. To many of us from the deep south, before internet and before the nightly TV shows, before Rosa Parks, there was jet magazine, national black newspapers and national Tennessee. Every Sunday night, 11:00, Nashville put on an hour of cl Franklin. He was our hero. Traditional sermons. Prodigal son, in the conflict. He said, I'm not going to preach, I'm going to introduce my daughter, she can sing. It's not just a dad's opinion, she can sing. Her singing never grew old. Reverend Kyles, on the way home to visit, he was killed. He was doing a revival at that time. Aretha was on the strand. A beautiful home of the soul. Built as Jesus on high where we never shall die, it will never grow old. It was real dark stars. They shine the most clearly.

That night, a star was born, somewhere between Nashville and eternity, we heard a voice from heaven, 14 years old. Aretha was our queen, she belonged and belongs to us. She was blessed to have the powerful gift of singing, perhaps the most remarkable voice that the world has ever heard. They said of Anderson that a voice like that is heard once in a thousand years. Aretha is in that zone of once in a thousand years. She did not shy away from Maria. From that point on, she only required to be called, Aretha. She took music lessons at school. The womb of the soulful singer of our time.

[15:35:00] Lou Bethel, Sam Cook, Clara Ward, Mavis. She came with that. Mrs. Houston, Whitney's mother singing in the background. The gospel harmonics. Jackson, Washington, the cause of joy, really came out of this womb. She was baptized in struggle and service.

In 1942, when she was born, not in Detroit, she was born on the Mississippi river in Memphis, Tennessee. The river that carried our people up and down for 36 years. Aretha's soul from the Mississippi River. Then between Tennessee and Mississippi. Blacks were lynched in Tennessee. 492 in Arkansas. 654 in Mississippi. She was 13 when they were civil rights. She had money and could not buy ice cream. She could not stop to buy gasoline. Aretha came out of the bowels of our struggle. Her father marched in Detroit, 1963. His home until the march on Washington. Along with Harry Belafonte, he was facing bankruptcy, we couldn't go any further. Where was the money coming from? The black banks are too small and white banks are too hostile.

So, Aretha said we'll check. We'll give you the money. We were on attack. Aretha Franklin And Harry Belafonte stepped on the stage in Houston, Texas. On that stage, they put tear gas in the fan. They had to evacuate the building. She kept right on singing. She sang for Carter, Mandela, Clinton, Obama. After all, before we had this level of technology, in the same group. Called the caravans. I was called last week to meet with Aretha. I met with her at least a month for the last three years. She called me to reach me on the phone. Talking to the fire. Prayed a why and cried a while. I came last Wednesday.

Aretha was in a coma. Not able to wake up or move some days. I was with -- I said wake up, baby. Wake up baby. She opened her eyes. The warmth of her hand one more time. It was a hard good-bye. We came back that night with Sabrina for another prayer meeting. A group playing in the background. I thought it was the last time Shakespeare said when she shall die take her hand up in stars and she will make the heavens so fine, all the world will be in love with night.

[15:40:00] Aretha had the power to make the film directors cry. It was deep and profound. She got sick. We talked more and more. She called late at night. Are you coming? Yes. You bringing bread? I'm not bringing bread. Not going to bother. Inside joke. We went to four or five hospitals. To cap off singing and service, she went to New York knowing she had cancer. She was there in the bus to help aids victims.

That is a signature moment in her life, all the times she was seen in her own situation, yet she was there. She asked me to give her a favorite testimony. It was that when I was a kid growing up in South Carolina, they would talk about never grow old, never grow old. A great singer for a blind voice, sang. He said I'm drinking liquor tonight. I'm not an alcoholic, but I have four stage of cancer. I don't have insurance. The liquid is for my pain. Forgive me for drinking, I don't mean to disrespect you. He had a daughter on tap. He said let me sing a couple songs for you. I know you are concerned I'm drinking. I'm not a drunk. I'm drinking for pain. I was born without eyes. I have never seen the blue. I have never seen a rose. I can touch it. My wife, I can't see it, I know the contour. And my children, I love them by the sound of their voice and pat of their feet. Don't feel sorry for me because I'm blind and have cancer. I am born across the river. I heard there's a man over there who is giving sight to the blind. He's curing cancer. When you hit that point in your life where the man is over there, a few months ago, Aretha was afraid. I had Parkinson's. The older you get, the diseases come out of nowhere, it seems. Let me say to you today, this is not for Aretha, this is for us. We leave here today not registered to vote, you will dishonor Aretha. [applause]

You hear all the singing and don't feel something, something wrong with you. When we met, maybe 15 years old. I'm now 77. 78 in a few weeks. Parkinson's is in trouble. I have faith. The doctor said Parkinson's will knock you down. It will, but there is a god. The doctor of doctors. Don't fear this disease when you change your clothes and move to a different transition. I can say now with a level of certainty I couldn't years ago. I once was young. I have traveled to China. I have traveled to Japan, all around the world. I have seen -- I worked with Dr. King. I worked with Mandela. I have seen a lot and been a lot of places. But, I have never seen the righteous. Sleep on it, Aretha. See ya, in the morning. [applause]

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Wow. Let's talk about what we just heard from Reverend Jackson. It was so powerful. Ladies, Alicia and Michaela, the line that we just, when he said, if you leave here today and are not registered to vote, you are dishonoring Aretha.

ALICIA QUARLES, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Absolutely. Her father, as we talked CL Franklin, was rooted in the civil rights movement as was Aretha. The famous "I have a dream" speech performed at their church. They said you should do that dream speech for the march on Washington. That's why he did that speech. They were at the church when he did the speech at her father's church. This is deeply engrained in her. She was born on the Mississippi River. She was born in segregation and there to sing for the first black President of the United States. I was at that inauguration. Talk about full circle. He wrote that from his heart.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL WRITER: We were saying how everyone rose up and, here and even in the McCain ceremony, this idea of respect. I think that America really needed to hear that today.

BALDWIN: We needed this.

DAVIS: We needed five hours of church to hear testimony and be moved and listen about faith and service and community, but, this -- this celebration, I think, has brought the best. Chaka Khan killed it.

BALDWIN: Killed.

DAVIS: You know, everyone gave, I think, respect. And the fact that America now, today, between these two celebrations are having a conversation rooted in respect and dignity. It was the re-centering we need.

QUARLES: What America deserves.

DAVIS: The diversity in both services. Both of their services and both of these people were about civil rights, equal rights, respect.

BALDWIN: Allowing members of the public in both. It's not just for votes you recognize, ordinary folks can walk in and pay their respects. That is what they are doing both in Detroit and also in Washington, D.C. we have more ahead. Still waiting for Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder to perform there as they close out this remembrance, this celebration at the greater grace temple in Detroit, Michigan. We're back in a moment.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Honoring two American icons right now in the nation's capital. Members of the public paying respect to John McCain lying in state on Capitol Hill, only the 31st person to do so in the history of this country. So, such an honor. It speaks to just such the statesman. Also, as we've been watching in Detroit, the funeral, the celebration of the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. We listened to Former President Bill Clinton speaking earlier. Talking about how he started off as a groupie of Aretha Franklin. In case you missed it, watch.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My most enduring memory of her was almost happenstance. For I was there in what turned out to be the last public singing she ever did. At Elton John's aid benefit last year. And the cathedral of St. John, the Divine in Harlem, just a couple of blocks from my office. So, Elton John and I done a lot of work together for a long time on aids. And he asked me to come. I showed up. I said, well, you know -- he said Aretha is the talent. So, I showed up a little early. And I was like a grade school kid. Here I am old gray-haired guy. She heard I was here and she summoned me back. And she is sitting there. I mean, obviously desperately ill. Gaunt. She stood right up and said, how you doing, baby? I said well I'm doing -- I'm doing better now. And she said -- she said, well look at me. I finally got thin again. That took a lot of guts to say that. And then she went out into this setting. And all these people who loved her and were you a struck and say can you believe she showed up? And she sang not one song, not two songs, not three songs. She had them bring a chair out. And she sang for 45 straight minutes.

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: Alicia is with me and 45 minutes the Rev. Jackson talking about when they were in Harlem for Elton John's AIDS benefit, saying she was sick and knew the cancer was getting the best of her and still to perform 45 minutes. You met her how many times?

QUARLES: At least ten times.

BALDWIN: Ten times.

QUARLES: At least, Yes.

BALDWIN: What was she like?

QUARLES: You know, I think about what former President Clinton just said and what Jesse Jackson didn't say what she traveled to New York on a bus. This woman was afraid to fly. She took buses everywhere with her entourage. She was a mixture of old school entertainer and extreme faith. And kept it real. You would get a drink tickets at her birthday parties. She makes you buy the second drink because she was paying for this. You aren't coming here running up my tab. Funny that she didn't care. She was equal opportunity. She was real and smart.

BALDWIN: Thank you. We're waiting for Fantasia. There she is.

[16:00:00] FANTASIA BARRINO TAYLOR, SINGER: When you're down and troubled you need oh some love and care, ain't nothing said, ain't nothing goin' right, oh, all you got to do is just close your eyes and meditate on him and sure soon he'll be there, got did brighten up, said he can brighten up your day, darkest hour, lord take my hand, lead me home, let's me stand, I get tired, I am tired.

I am weak.

I am weak and I am worn through the shadow, through the night, precious lord, lead me on to the night, take my hand, precious lord, be my friend.

Can we take it up a notch? Can we do it?

Precious lord, take my hand and you know lead me on, let me stand, I'm trying and I get weak. Yes, yes, yes, yes. To the family all you got to do is call all you got to do is call and he'll be there and he'll be there, you got a friend, you got a friend in Jesus, you got a friend, if you ever, ever, ever need him, he'll be right there for you, you got a friend, he'll never, he'll never leave you, you got a friend, anybody, anybody, anybody now I'm saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, you got a friend, you got a friend --