By this point, you probably already know that Aretha Franklin died in her home on Thursday, August 16 at the age of 76 years old. You’ve probably seen the celebrity reactions – stars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Diana Ross have paid their respect to The Queen of Soul via Twitter. A true icon — Aretha’s contributions to the history of music – and the history of the world – will not soon be forgotten. We’ve lost a powerful voice in the campaign for women’s equality and racial justice, but she’s left us with some powerful words to bring with us into the future and help continue the fight for all that she stood for.
Lucky enough to have seen Aretha live exactly once, and this was it.
Thank you for the music, we will be listening to you forever https://t.co/aMHIBFaTAs
— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) August 16, 2018
I’m sitting in prayer for the wonderful golden spirit Aretha Franklin.
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) August 16, 2018
On the power of women:
“As women, we do have it. We have the power,” she told Elle in 2016. “We are very resourceful. Women absolutely deserve respect. I think women and children and older people are the three least-respected groups in our society.”
On being a voice in the fight for civil rights:
“My daddy says I don’t know what I’m doing. Well, I respect him, of course, but I’m going to stick to my beliefs. Angela Davis must go free. Black people must be free… Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to set her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people — they’ve made me financially able to have it — and I want to use it in ways that will help our people,” she told Jet, according to David Ritz in Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin.
On making anthems for women:
“I didn’t think my songs would become anthems for women. But I’m delighted. Women probably immediately feel compassion and relate to the lyrics. We can all learn a little something from each other, so whatever people can take and be inspired by where my music is concerned is great,” Aretha told Time last year.
On being a “catalyst for the women’s movement”:
In 2014, she told Rolling Stone, “I don’t think I was a catalyst for the women’s movement. Sorry. But if I were? So much the better!”
This whole damn song:
I mean, obviously. The song was originally written by Otis Redding, but Aretha made it the anthem for equality that is it today by reworking his lyrics. “When I recorded it, it was pretty much a male-female kind of thing. And more in a general sense, from person-to-person — I’m going to give you respect and I’d like to have that respect back, or I expect respect to be given back,” she told the radio show “Fresh Air
…Oh, and this one, too:
Teaming up with British music duo, Eurythmics, the world was given yet another gem of a feminist anthem. With lyrics like “Now this is a song to celebrate / The conscious liberation of the female state! / Mothers – daughters and their daughters too. / Woman to woman / We’re singin’ with you,” it’s pretty hard not to feel empowered while listening to this certified bop.
On what “Respect” is:
“[‘Respect’] was also one of the battle cries of the civil rights movement. The song took on monumental significance. It became the ‘respect’ women expected from men and men expected from women, the inherent right of all human beings,” Aretha wrote in her autobiography.
On why “Respect” is so important:
“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right. That’s why people still relate to that song so much,” she told The Star.
During Aretha’s lifetime, she won 18 Grammy Awards and was the first woman admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the late ’80s. Now it’s time for us to use the moving quotes and lyrics she left with us to help all people get the respect they deserve.