(Photo Credit: Cecilio Ricardo, U.S. Air Force / Public domain)

Today, you will notice that Black Out Tuesday is trending across social media and you will see people posting and sharing black square images online. Black Out Tuesday refers to the campaign initiated by the workers in the music industry including but not limited to celebrities, corporations, music labels, sports stars, etc. to protest racism and police violence that resulted to the death of African-Americans George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and many others.

We have also been met earlier by the news that two autopsies (one independent conducted by experts hired by Mr. Floyd’s family while the other was conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner) found George Floyd died by homicide. According to CNN, the independent autopsy result says Mr. Floyd “died of ‘asphyxiation from sustained pressure’ when his neck and back were compressed by Minneapolis police officers during his arrest last week. The pressure cut off blood flow to his brain, that autopsy determined.” The latter on the other hand, says the cause of death is “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” 

As a response to George Floyd’s tragic and senseless death and to the current turmoil raging across the United States (discussed yesterday in detail on the A4A blog here), Adam4Adam blog will be dedicating this first week of pride month to the black LGBTQ community and allies by featuring and celebrating the lives of important black LGBTQ people and allies in our community. 

The first person on our list is someone who had left such a remarkable legacy. She is the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, who was credited for “playing a significant role in the shaping of the black identity through her music and her work in the movement.” This is because Ms. Franklin “not only used her voice to entertain but to uplift and inspire generations through songs that have become anthems.” One such song is Respect which is said to have become the “anthem of the civil rights campaign and the feminist movement.” 

Ms. Franklin was famous not just because of her soulful voice but because she spoke (and sang) for people who had no voice. She helped raise funds for the movement for multiple occasions and she had even reportedly “written into her contract in the 60s that she would never perform for a segregated audience.” 

Further, Aretha Franklin was also a beloved icon of the LGBT community because not only was she involved in the civil rights movement, she was also immersed in the fight for the LGBT and women’s rights. When she was alive, Ms. Franklin performed at a gay couple’s wedding and on November 7, 2017, she performed her final show at Elton John’s annual AIDS Foundation gala. Among her many songs are “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “Baby I Love You,” “Say A Little Prayer,” “Think,” “Chain of Fools,” and “A Deeper Love.” 

Ms. Franklin’s most memorable performances included singing Precious Lord, Take My Hand during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s memorial service in 1968 and on January 20th, 2009 when she sang My Country Tis of Thee at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. 

If you wish to know more about Aretha Franklin, you can watch her upcoming biopic titled Respect whichfollows her life story and her road to stardom from her humble beginnings as a child singing gospel in her father’s church’s choir. The film stars Jennifer Hudson who was reportedly handpicked by Ms. Franklin herself years before she passed away due to pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (pNET) on August 16, 2018.

In the short clip shown below, Grammy and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson can be seen belting a few lines of Aretha Franklin’s iconic song Respect amidst a stage bathed in gold. Respect is said to be a popular choice by the “community at LGBTQ rallies and marches.”

Respect is coming to theaters this year, 14th of August 2020. It will also star Leroy McClain as Cecil Franklin, Forest Whitaker as C. L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler, Tituss Burgess as Reverend Dr. James Cleveland, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin, Tate Donovan as John Hammond, Skye Dakota Turner as young Aretha Franklin, and Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington.

Is there a story or anecdote that you remember about Aretha Franklin? Please share it with us in the comments section below!

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