LANSING — The House Transportation Committee unanimously approved House Bill 4060, introduced by State Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit), which would designate a portion of M-10 the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway. Although Franklin was born in Memphis, she and her family moved to Detroit in 1944, and the Motor City is where she made her home. In addition to Rep. Love, several members of Ms. Franklin’s family were present and testified before the committee expressing their support and the significance of this unique memorial.
“Aretha Franklin was more than a musical icon; she was a civil rights champion and humanitarian,” Love said. “She generously gave of her time, talent and treasury to support causes such as Rev. Dr. King’s ‘Poor Peoples Campaign,’ the AARP with an original song ‘Stand Up for Yourself’ that became the anthem for national health care reform, and she remixed her hit ‘Think’ for the ‘Think…Don’t Drive with Drugs and Drink’ public service campaign.
“The mark she left on the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the world will not be forgotten. Aretha Franklin is Michigan’s musical matriarch, a daughter of Detroit, the Queen of Soul and the Ambassador of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The beloved, iconic, legendary, renowned musical impresario provided the soundtrack to the American story for over six decades. On behalf of the state, the memorial designation on the Lodge Freeway will be a fitting tribute to honor a woman who dedicated so much of her life to honoring us.”
Aretha Franklin used her platform to create and sustain social change, and she was recognized for her work with commemorative doctorate degrees, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kennedy Center Honors and the Grammy’s MusiCares Person of the Year, to name a few. And in 1992, she was inducted as an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Attorney Lois Bingham, president of the Detroit alumni chapter also offered supporting testimony before the committee.
“I was proud to testify in support of state Rep. Love and all her efforts associated with Michigan House Bill 4060,” said Bingham. “We are honored to be able to call Ms. Franklin one of us and are happy to take part in this monumental endeavor to commemorate her historic contributions to the music industry. Her philanthropic efforts will be recognized throughout Detroit and the rest of the world, and with this memorial highway the Queen of Soul shall forever live on.”
The stretch of memorial highway would begin at Livernois, near New Bethel Baptist church where Franklin’s father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin was pastor, and end at Interstate 94. The stretch was chosen as a symbol of her roots and connection with her community, from her humble beginnings at her father’s church to her tremendous international impact. The bill was referred with unanimous consent to the House Ways and Means Committee for review.
“As a native Detroiter and lifelong Michigander, I’m proud that one of my first acts as Chairman is to honor the great Aretha Franklin,” said Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann).
Also present at the hearing were members of Ms. Franklin’s family Sabrina Owens, niece and family ambassador, who testified in support of the bill; Cristal Franklin, niece; Earline Franklin, sister-in-law; Brenda Franklin Corbett, cousin and backup singer; and Tonya Moore, President, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Tau Alpha Omega chapter. Also supporting but not present were First Lady Crisette Ellis of Greater Grace Temple Detroit and Jimalatice Thomas-Gilbert of Real Entertainers, Artists, and Athletes Lead (R.E.A.L.).