CBS Detroit – Pink Cadillacs were lined up at a ceremony today, held at the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 38 union building. As dignitaries announced a section of M-10 the Lodge freeway shall be named the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway.
The section of M-10 from Livernois to I-94 will get the new name as Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Mayor Mike Duggan, and family members of Aretha Franklin were in attendance. Also in attendance were Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, and Reverand Robert Smith who now heads New Bethel Baptist Church. Which was Franklin’s father’s church, and where she got her career started by singing as a young teenager.
As reported by the Detroit News, Whitmer said, The people of Michigan are proud to claim Aretha Franklin,” Whitmer said. “Now as people from all over the world travel to Detroit on the Aretha Franklin Memorial Highway, they will be reminded of the profound impact that she had on the city and on the state.”
Aretha Franklin, aka “The Queen of Soul” died on August 16, 2016 from pancreatic cancer, and her life was celebrated at a televised funeral at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Throughout her musical career she had 112 charted singles on Billboard, and 77 Hot 100 entries, and 17 top-ten songs. Franklin’s best-known hits include, “Respect”, (You Make Me Feel) Like a Natural Woman, Chain of Fools, Think, and Freeway of Love, which was played through speakers at today’s ceremony. Franklin was born in Memphis Tennessee but spent most of her life in Detroit. Starting by singing gospel music in her teens, even touring with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., her solo career started when she signed with Columbia Records in 1960.
Franklin’s granddaughters Victorie and Grace Franklin performed the Black national anthem entitled “Lift Every Voice” and her son Edward sang two songs as well. Mayor Mike Duggan said, “Unlike others who came from the city and left, this freeway actually tracks the extraordinary course of her life,” said Duggan. “Anybody who passes through this city, no matter how briefly, is going to be reminded that the queen of soul came from the city of Detroit.”
House Bill 4060 declared the section of the Lodge to be named after Aretha Franklin, which was sponsored by Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit, and signed into law by Governor Whitmer. However, being met by some opposition in the Michigan Legislature. As some Republicans argued designations like this should be reserved for first responders and veterans. House Bill 4060 passed the House 101-6 and 32-5 in the Senate.