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MDOT video highlights dedication ceremony for Aretha Franklin memorial highway designation in Detroit

Contact: Jeff Cranson, MDOT Director of Communications, 517-648-8247 Agency: Transportation

August 27, 2020 -- The legacy of the Queen of Soul is known the world over, and this week a portion of Detroit freeway became a part of that legacy with the dedication of the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway designation on M-10 (John C. Lodge Freeway).

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has shared a video on its YouTube channel of highlights from the ceremony, including remarks by Rep. Leslie Love, who sponsored the bill to name the portion of M-10 from Livernois Avenue to I-94 after Franklin; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, a native of Detroit; Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; and State Transportation Director Paul C. Ajegba, plus a stirring vocal tribute from Franklin's granddaughters, Victorie and Grace.

"It is a big deal," said Rep. Love. "Because that's not just a sign, it is a symbol. And it is a reminder every time of the struggle, as well as the victory. It's a reminder of our journey and our sister who comes from Memphis but grew up and built her legacy right here in the city of Detroit. We're talking about just a down-home girl right here from the D who gave so generously of her time, her talent, and her treasure, whether it was through her PSAs for Don't Drink and Drive, or her advocacy on voting, and all the work she did with AARP, she was there on the frontline."

"I am incredibly honored to be here today for the unveiling of the Aretha Franklin Memorial Highway, because Aretha Franklin was a trailblazer," said Gov. Whitmer. "She spent decades of her life in this city. She helped build this city to what it is today. Her love for this city was reflected in her music but also in her years of service in this community. The people of Michigan are proud to claim Aretha Franklin."

"She enabled movements that changed people's lives," added Lt. Gov. Gilchrist. "She enabled organizations that created and delivered resources for communities in this city and around this state, and around this nation. That is the significance that this sign means to me."

The MDOT website has more information about highway memorial signs and the steps required for such signs to be installed. Memorial highways must be named in a bill passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by the governor. The group requesting the memorial signs are required to pay for the fabrication of the signs and all associated costs of installation. 

(L-R) Franklin family members, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Rep. Leslie Love unveil the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway sign. © 2020 MDOT Photography Unit