6 Republicans vote against naming highway for Aretha Franklin

    Aretha Franklin mural in Detroit's Eastern Market | Ken Coleman

    The state House on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to name a portion of M-10 in Detroit the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway in honor of the Detroit musical legend.

    Steven Johnson

    House Bill 4060, sponsored by state Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit), passed 101-6. All of the “no” votes were from Republicans Reps.: Steven Johnson (R-Wayland), Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron), Phil Green (R-Millington), John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp.), Luke Meerman (Polktown Twp.) and Matt Maddock (R-White Lake).

    “Mr. Speaker and members of the House: I believe naming of highways should be reserved for those who have died in service to our state or community and not to celebrities,” said Johnson in explaining his “no” vote on the floor.

    The stretch of memorial highway would begin at Livernois, near New Bethel Baptist Church where Franklin’s father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, was the pastor, and end at I-94.

    The bill memorializing the “Queen of Soul” last month moved unanimously from the Michigan House Transportation Committee, as the Advance reported. Several members of the Franklin family testified in support.

    Leslie Love

    In making the case for the legislation last month, Love said Aretha Franklin was “more than a musical icon” and noted her civil rights legacy, including working with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. She received a host of accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, before passing away on Aug. 18, 2018, at age 76.

    Last month, House Transportation Committee Chair Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) said he was “proud that one of my first acts” was to honor Franklin.

    The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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