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

aretha franklin
Ben Alman
Aretha Franklin says she's in better health and will hold a concert in Michigan this August.

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.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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