Emma Lockridge was at work when a message flashed on Facebook telling Lockridge that Aretha Franklin had passed.

“I said, ‘I can’t work. I’ve got to go to her church,’ " said Lockridge, 65.

“I’m going with you," a co-worker, Leslie Mathews, responded.

The two women left their offices at Michigan United, a coalition that works for justice for all people, and headed to New Bethel Baptist Church, the church where Aretha Franklin’s star bloomed under the leadership of its nationally cherished pastor, her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin.

The way Lockridge and Mathews saw it, they had to pay their respects because Aretha Franklin had demanded and gained respect not only for herself, but for black women in particular.

“When she sang 'Young, Gifted and Black,' it brought about a pride in me,” Mathews, 60, of Detroit said. “I’d never heard anyone say I was gifted. It was the first time I’d heard gifted and black in the same phrase. I felt proud. I felt valuable.

”Lockridge said the image of Franklin, in African attire on the cover of her 1972 “Amazing Grace” album, still fills her with pride.

“Black women needed that assurance and pride because for so many centuries we’d had other people define who we were, and usually it was in negative terms,” Lockridge said.

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