Yet, she added, "so unapologetically black - she was so proud of being a black woman".
One of the most powerful examples of Franklin's commitment to Civil Rights was when she offered to post bail for revolutionary activist and scholar Angela Davis in 1970 after Davis, a member of the Communist Party, was accused of assisting a courtroom takeover that ended in four deaths.
The private funeral will be limited to family, friends, dignitaries and special guests - but a large screen is being erected for public viewing according to Bishop Charles H Ellis III, pastor of Greater Grace Temple.
Linda Swanson, executive vice president of Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit, said Tuesday her family has always been close with the Franklin family.
"She feels like she could be a sister or an aunt to me", said Matthews, a 64-year-old Detroiter who attended the viewing.
Lamon said he didn't know as much about the singer as his mother, but he knew how important she was to his family.
There was a gospel tribute held at the New Bethel Baptist Church, where her father once preached, on Monday.
The roses that surround the casket, Owens said, reflected her love for the flower and her propensity to send arrangements "in grand fashion". She was in repose, dressed in red from head to high-heeled shoes, legs crossed at the ankles.
Here's How John McCain Will Be Memorialized This Week
McCain served in the chamber for six terms, most recently as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. John McCain's service to his country has come to an end. "Our hearts and prayers are with you".
To Ms Owens, the dress - with its ornamental elements and sheer netting fabric - looked like something Franklin would wear onstage and "something she would have selected for herself".
"Her music saved my life in 1997 when I was contemplating suicide", he said.
In the first hours, hundreds of people from multi-generations visited the public viewing with signs, Aretha T-shirts and more.
Howard said Franklin's niece, Chrystal, heard people were spending the night outside so she stopped by about 1 a.m. with some bottled water and White Castle hamburgers.
Tammy Gibson, 49, from Chicago, said she arrived at about 5.30am.
"I emulated her a lot and never had a chance to, as a little girl, sing for her - which is what I wanted to do when she would come to our home", Thimes told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.
Considered royalty in her MI hometown of Detroit, people travelled from far and wide to wait outside the museum.
A pink Cadillac pulled up in front of the museum before the doors opened, and the crowd burst into applause and song.