3 Ways Aretha Franklin Influenced the Civil Rights Movement

Aretha Franklin, also known as the Queen of Soul, inspired a massive amount of people through her music and activism. Here are three major ways she influenced the Civil Rights Movement:

1. "Respect"

One of her most beloved songs, "Respect" became not only a feminist anthem, but a civil rights anthem as well. The song was originally written and sang by Otis Redding, and Franklin recorded her version of it in 1967. The hit soon became a representation of independence, equality, justice and an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. The song wasn't only popular in the Black community, but has touched the white community as well. Franklin's well-known song is still celebrated today, and continues to encourage justice, equality and unyielding independence.

2. Touring with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Aretha Franklin's father, Clarence Franklin, was close friends with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and he contributed to the Civil Rights Movement. Franklin, taking after her father's activism, funded the movement and sang her songs while touring with King. Reverend Jesse Jackson, an activist who worked closely with King, recalled, "When Dr. King was alive, several times she helped us make payroll." According to Jackson, Franklin even put gas in the vans for an 11-city tour. She didn't just entertain masses of people but used her platform fight for racial equality. Franklin was willing to participate in the tour for free and provide support because she knew the Black community would see positive changes as a result of the movement. 

3. Offering bail for Angela Davis

Angela Davis, an activist fighting against oppression of Blacks, was arrested in connection to a shooting in a California courtroom. Davis wasn't present or involved in the shooting, leading black activists to speak out about the wrongful arrest. When Franklin heard of the situation, she offered to bail her out since Davis wanted "freedom for Black people." Through this bold action, the singer was able to demonstrate her focus on civil rights and freedom for those who helped her reach fame.

Aretha Franklin was not only an amazing singer, but an activist who advocated for racial equality and an end to the oppression of the Black community. Songs such as "Think," "Respect," "A Natural Woman," and many more continue to uplift massive audiences of people. Women continue to embrace their strength and independence, and members of the Black community admire the beauty of their culture due to Franklin's work over the years. She has moved audiences with both her voice and her activism, which is a legacy one should be proud of.

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