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FBI Surveilled Aretha Franklin, Detroit’s ‘Queen of Soul,’ For Years

By Allan Lengel

Detroit’s “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin, who was involved with civil rights groups, was surveilled for years by the FBI, a 270-page document shows, according to NPR. She died in 2018.

Aretha Franklin in 2005 (Deposit Photos)

NPR reports that informants provided information about Franklin for possibly appearing at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s 1967 and 1968 national conventions, in Atlanta and Memphis, respectively.

Copies of “The Atlanta Voice” newspaper were distributed to FBI offices around the country reporting her visit to town.

Franklin, who died at age 76, and was listed in the Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Artists of All Times,” was involved in the civil rights movement through her music and personal connections, NPR reports. In 1970 she offered to pay the bail for Angela Davis, who had been arrested for kidnapping, conspiracy and murder. She was eventually acquitted.


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