Fans sleep on sidewalk to pay their respects to Aretha Franklin

Fans who slept on sidewalks overnight pay their respects to Aretha Franklin as her solid GOLD coffin arrives at a Detroit museum for open casket viewing ahead of her four-day funeral and memorial

  • More than 200 fans slept overnight outside the Detroit museum where Franklin will be lying in state on Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am to 9pm
  • The two-day public viewing begins her four-day funeral and memorial activities in her Detroit hometown
  • The Queen of Soul died from pancreatic cancer at age 76 on August 16 

Hundreds of Aretha Franklin fans slept on the sidewalk overnight outside a museum in preparation of paying their respects to the legendary singer who died from advanced pancreatic cancer at age 76 on August 16. 

The Queen of Soul’s body arrived in a shining gold casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in her Detroit, Michigan, hometown on Tuesday morning for the start of her two-day public viewing.

Franklin was transported to the museum in a 1936 white LaSalle, passing by as many as 200 of her fans who had slept on the sidewalk and were already lined up to be among the first to pay their respects to the singer, the Detroit Free Press reported.   

Aretha Franklin’s body arrives in a gold casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in her Detroit, Michigan, hometown on Tuesday morning

Franklin’s body, seen in its shining gold casket, will be lying in state at the museum Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am to 9pm

While many fans hailed from Detroit, others had traveled in from all around the country for the opportunity to see Franklin while lying in state at the museum, which had previously hosted a similar public viewing for civil rights icon Rosa Parks following her death in 2005.   

Melissa Howard, 50, of Austin Texas, said she flew in to Detroit the day before Franklin’s public viewing started, so she could ensure that she would be able to get inside the museum and pay her respects to Franklin. 

Howard, a fan of Franklin’s since she was a child, told that Detroit Free Press that she arrived on the line at 6.30pm Monday and that Franklin was ‘royalty’ and ‘worth it.’ 

Howard said that at around 1am Tuesday, Franklin’s niece, Chrystal, came to visit the line and handed out bottled water and White Castle hamburgers to say thank you to fans on behalf of the family.  

Thousands of mourners are expected to come to the museum, which had been the largest black museum in the United States until the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened in Washington, D.C., in 2016. 

Hundreds of fans watched as Franklin’s casket was carried into the museum Tuesday morning in preparation for the viewing

Franklin fans from her Detroit hometown and across the country waited outside the museum to pay their respects to Franklin

Many fans lined up and slept outside the museum overnight to ensure they secured a spot on line for the public viewing


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Franklin’s public viewing will be open from 9am to 9pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, her body will be moved to New Bethel Baptist Church, which was founded by her late father, Rev. C.L. Franklin, giving congregation members a chance to pay their respects if they were unable to get into the public viewing.  

Franklin’s funeral is being held Friday at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. The family and friends-only service is set to feature an all-star lineup of performers including Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia and Shirley Caesar. Ron Isley, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Holliday and Franklin’s son, Edward Franklin, will also perform.    

VIPs aren’t expected to be limited to the musical kind: Scheduled to speak at the service is former President Bill Clinton, whose inaugurations featured performances by Franklin. Others include the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Bishop T. D. Jakes, Cicely Tyson, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Clive Davis and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

Smokey Robinson also plans to pay tribute with words, not music. The Motown ‘Miracle’ and Franklin grew up together and delivered a spine-tingling duet on Soul Train in 1979.

The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., pastor of Atlanta’s Salem Baptist Church, will deliver the eulogy.

It’s expected to be a marathon service, perhaps lasting five hours or more.

The church also hosted Parks’ funeral, at which Franklin sang.

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