National Black Movie Association Celebrates Aretha Franklin with “Respect”

“Put some respect on her name.” This message vibrated throughout the room during the National Black Movie Association’s (NBMA) special VIP screening of the Aretha Franklin biopic, “Respect” Wednesday evening on Aug. 12. Franklin’s life was marked by grief, joy, and resilience and NBMA had the opportunity to acknowledge her memorable career at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“It’s a story of perseverance and ongoing struggle that represent our people,” explained Susan Lee, marketing director for NBMA. “She lived her life on her terms and rose to the top of her game. We’re here tonight to tell her story.”

An enthusiastic crowd gathered to celebrate and share their thoughts on the legendary “Queen of Soul” during the reception.

“Aretha was one of my favorite singers, and I wanted to see the movie,” said Phyllis Lee, an attendee. “I like Jennifer [Hudson], and I think she would do a good job because I like her voice, and it sounds pretty much like Aretha to me, so I’m excited about seeing it.”

Lee grew up during Franklin’s rise to mainstream success and loved her gospel-inspired music. “Mary, Don’t You Weep” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” are a few of her favorite songs. She also values Franklin’s active participation in the civil rights movement and support for the advancement of Black Americans.

“She was a giver,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t know how much she gave, money-wise and of herself.”

Her advocacy is also one of the main reasons why Deon Moore attended the event. Moore is a big fan of Franklin’s and looked forward to learning more about the singer’s life. He says she is his mother’s and grandmother’s idol and feels he owes respect to her to watch and support the film.

“She paved the way for a lot of artists in general, a lot of Black artists in general,” he said. “But ultimately, she made sure she provided a life for her family, her friends, and herself. So, her legacy, without saying, is a huge one.”

“Respect” details the highs and lows of Aretha Franklin’s trajectory through family, love life, and eventual stardom. The film showcases how unprocessed trauma and the ability to come to terms with that can transpire into a tragic and freeing reality.

The true essence of the movie is about finding your voice. Like Aretha said, “You have to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace,” and the audience witnesses her struggle to find this peace through triumph and determination.

These traits are something that many people feel, and it’s especially the case for Black people in entertainment. It’s why NBMA continues to provide a space for Black filmmakers, writers, actors and actresses, and others to make their mark in the Hollywood industry.

“Because of your support, we are able to fulfill their dreams, and that means so much,” said Agnes Moss, founder of NBMA. “I always say that when we pull our resources together, great things happen.”

The National Black Movie Association champions Black films and Black filmmakers by advocating for diversity and inclusion in the movie industry. You can support the National Black Movie Association’s mission by donating via PayPal and joining the community on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. For more information on NBMA, please visit the organization’s website.

Check out “Respect” in theaters now!