Aretha Franklin: Michigan House Votes to Rename Detroit Highway After Singer
The Michigan House of Representatives voted 101-6 on Tuesday to rename a section of Detroit, Michigan’s M-10 as “Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway.” The legislation is now set for the state Senate.
The bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Leslie Love of Detroit, called the soul icon a “special lady” who battled for civil rights causes and “gave us all a soundtrack to our lives,” The Associated Press reports. The stretch of road — which starts near New Bethel Baptist Church, where Franklin’s father was pastor, and ends at I-94 — was selected to symbolize her broad reach.
The late singer, who died in August 2018 from a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, grew up in the city and began singing gospel music as a child at New Bethel. Once her music career took off, she relocated to New York City, then Los Angeles, before moving back to Detroit in 1982. Her memorial service took place in the city, and she was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The city previously named a portion of their waterfront district after the Queen of Soul.
The bill earned “no” votes from six GOP lawmakers: Republican Reps Shane Hernandez (Port Huron), Matt Maddock (White Lake), Steve Johnson (Wayland), Phil Green (Millington), Luke Meerman (Polkin Township) and John Reilly (Oakland Township). Legislation to rename freeways often passes without resistance.
Hernandez said he thinks only first responders, like police officers and firefighters, and military killed in the line of duty should receive such an honor. “People who did a service to our state or nation, we can give them that honor and recognition and we should keep it reserved for them,” he said, Detroit Free Press reports. “I don’t deny the great things she accomplished and wonderful things she did. It’s just my personal opinion to keep it to first responders and military veterans.”