Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Lets Aretha Franklin's Name Get on the Lodge wit It

July 09, 2019, 7:31 AM by  Alan Stamm

(Graphic: Deadline Detroit)

It's a smooth move no politician would dare sidestep, so Michigan's governor goes there, as WXYZ reports:

Gretchen Whitmer has signed a bill that will officially designate a portion of the John C. Lodge Freeway (M-10) the Aretha Franklin Memorial Highway.

The portion of M-10 that will honor the Queen of Soul is located between Livernois and I-94 in Detroit. 

A bill authorizing the step won a final legislative OK three weeks ago. The first-term Democratic governor made this statement at Monday's signing:

"Aretha Franklin was an American icon. She began her career here in the heart of Detroit. Her creativity and voice contributed to our musical and cultural history in Michigan.

"I'm honored to be able to dedicate a portion of the M-10 freeway to remember Aretha and all she did for our state."

Earlier coverage, June 20

We goin' ridin' on the freeway of love
Drop the pedal and go, go, go
So drop the top baby
And let's cruise on into this better than ever street

How fitting, really now, to have a six-mile stretch of Detroit cruising lanes officially named the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway, complete with MDOT road signs soon.

Buckle up, baby, 'cause we goin' riding.

Senators in Lansing gave a final legislative green light Thursday to rename M-10 -- aka the John C. Lodge Freeway --between Livernois Avenue and I-94 for the late soul queen. The only thing left is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's signature, a photo op and way to show respect that's a certainty.

The highway's partial name change is more than a tribute to a cultural icon from Detroit who died last Aug. 16 at 76.

It's a sign, literally, that we're far from the 1950s and '60s, when the highway was built in segments between Jefferson Avenue downtown and Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield. We're also nearly a century past the years when John C. Lodge was Detroit's mayor (1922-24, 1927-29).

When Aretha L. Franklin's name goes on overpasses and signs alongside the freeway, she'll gain pride of place on six miles of urban roadway in a region where highways are named for Walter P. Reuther, Walter P. Chrysler, Edsel Ford, Jared Davison (an English immigrant) and brothers Frederick, Charles and Albert Fisher (Fisher Body Co. founders).

The first time we see "Sister Re" represented in Highway Gothic font, greeting us through the windshield in white-on-green reflective lettering, will be a moment, an affirmation, a very 2019 thing.

Detroit's queen of soul and a mayor from the days of old.

And yet, six House members three months ago voted against renaming any part of the Lodge -- even roughly one-fourth of its 23 miles. So did five senators Thursday.

Jonathan Oosting reports from Lansing in The Detroit News on the one-sentence bill sponsored by Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit:

It cleared the House in a 101-6 vote in March. The Senate signed off 32-5.

A handful of Republicans opposed the measure in each chamber, arguing highway designations should be reserved for military veterans and first responders.

But Sen. Erika Geiss, D-Taylor, called the designation an appropriate honor for Franklin, "one of Michigan’s beloved heroes" whose songs “provided the soundtracks to our lives."

"[She was] someone who stood up for civil rights, someone whose legacy transcends not just her space in the pantheon of musical genius, but someone whose name evokes worldwide what it means to be from Detroit and from Michigan."

Amen, Sen. Geiss. Ain't we ridin' on the freeway of love?


Read more:  WXYZ

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