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A major gathering in Harlem was planned for Sunday to honor the life and legacy of the legendary Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, as preparation continued for an MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) tribute and the singer’s funeral.

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The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and CEO of the National Action Network, and Harlem community leaders planned to convene a special memorial for Franklin on Sunday afternoon.

Sharpton noted that Franklin’s legacy was not limited to her hit songs.

“Most people knew Aretha for her chart-topping hits that cut to the core of the human experience – no matter your background. But I knew Aretha for the civil rights and humanitarian icon that many forget: the Aretha that uplifted her community and the civil rights movement through unbelievable generosity, valuable counsel, and unfailing integrity and activism – backed up by an unmatched humility and commitment to serve,” the civil rights leader stated.

Meanwhile, VMA producers were putting finishing touches on plans to honor the 76-year-old singer who succumbed Thursday to her bout with cancer.

The team was “working on a lot of different options” for the award show that airs on Monday, executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic told the Associated Press Friday, adding, “Whether it’s a performance or spoken — just something that’s organic and done in a way that feels tonally right because it’s Aretha Franklin.”

Franklin will be laid to rest at Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery following an Aug. 31 funeral at Greater Grace Temple on the city’s west side, the Detroit Free Press reported.

A public viewing was planned for Aug. 28-29 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Midtown, where Franklin will lie in state. The viewing will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day. The funeral, however, will be limited to family members, friends and selected guests.


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