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Governor Whitmer signs bill designating portion of M-10 freeway 'Aretha Franklin Memorial Highway'

A former Detroit superstar will now have a portion of the freeway named in her honor. The Aretha Franklin Memorial Highway will run along a section of the M-10 freeway, between Livernois and I-94 in Detroit.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the law Monday. Franklin died last August at age 76. The bill signing happened on a pink Cadillac in downtown Detroit. Whitmer called Franklin an “American icon” and said her musical contributions helped shape the state.

“She started her career right here in Detroit, but her influence has reached every corner of the world,” said Whitmer in a statement. “I’m honored to be able to dedicate a portion of the M-10 freeway to remember Aretha, to celebrate her life, and to honor everything she did for this city and our state.”    

Franklin was a prolific singer and performer with hits like Say A Little Prayer, Respect, and Think. She was also an activist, noted bill sponsor Representative Leslie Love (D-Detroit) in a statement.

“This is a special day in Michigan's history as we designate this memorial highway to the first female African-American artist-activist ever to receive this distinctive honor in the state's history,” said Love. “In the tradition of great artist-activists like Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Ruby Dee and Miriam Makeba, how befitting it is to the memory of the Queen of Soul, Ms. Aretha Franklin, who not only gave us hits like ‘Freeway of Love,’ but who also donated her talent in 1988 for an anti-drinking and driving PSA campaign, as well as to other social justice and civic causes.”

Opponents of the change say that highway names should only go to military veterans and first responders.