Aretha Franklin and Rev. Al Sharpton (266764)
Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton shared words about the passing of Aretha Franklin in a statement released Saturday.

Rev. Al Sharpton

“Most people knew Aretha for her chart-topping hits that cut to the core of the human experience – no matter your background. But I knew Aretha for the civil rights and humanitarian icon that many forget: the Aretha that uplifted her community and the civil rights movement through unbelievable generosity, valuable counsel, and unfailing integrity and activism – backed up by an unmatched humility and commitment to serve. Throughout our lives, I came to know Aretha very well – she became a big sis to me, and I am a luckier man for it. The world will never forget her music, and I will never forget her tremendous spirit and the example she set for us all. Today I stand tall with her family and friends as we pray for her soul to be at ease.”

Sharpton plans to join local leaders on Sunday at an outdoor concert during Harlem Week to celebrate Franklin. The special memorial will take place at the St. Nicholas Avenue Main Stage on 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue at 2:30 p.m.