Detroit honors Queen of Soul with post office naming

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Queen of Soul's legacy was celebrated Monday at an east side post office renamed in her honor. 

Family, friends, Detroit leaders and lawmakers gathered at the Fox Creek Station Post Office at 12711 E. Jefferson Avenue for a dedication ceremony to honor Aretha Franklin, who died in 2018. 

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, sponsored legislation to have the building renamed in Franklin's honor. The bill was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in January.

Edward Franklin, left, and his brother Kecalf Franklin, sons of Aretha Franklin, pose with plaques commemorating their mother during a dedication ceremony designating the Fox Creek Postal Station in Detroit as the Aretha Franklin Post Office Building.

The cause was very personal for Lawrence, who'd been a close friend of Franklin. 

"I want you to know that politically, Aretha Franklin stood up and used her voice," Lawrence said during the Monday dedication. "She used her voice in showing up to events and using that God-given gift of her voice to energize the people and to call for action."

Two of Franklin's four sons, Edward and Kecalf Franklin, shared their gratitude and memories of their mother and expressed her devotion to uplifting the community.

Edward Franklin offered thanks to the public and elected officials for "all the love you've extended to our family." Kecalf recited a prayer and sang "His Eye is on the Sparrow."

An east side post office has been renamed to honor the late Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul died in 2018 and the dedication comes after a city park and stretch of the Lodge Freeway was renamed after Franklin.

Detroit Deputy Mayor Conrad Mallett also was on hand Monday, along with City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield, State. Rep. Joe Tate, D-Detroit, and U.S. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, to reflect on the contributions of the legendary singer.

"She was gracious, she was always kind," Mallett said. "We will always keep Aretha in our memory."

(from left) Richard Moreton, (glasses), USPS district manager, Michigan 1 District and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, unveil an Aretha Franklin plaque during a renaming ceremony at the USPS Fox Creek Station in Detroit.

The postal building is the latest renaming to honor Franklin and located just a few miles from the former Chene Park, a site near the Detroit riverfront renamed the Aretha Louise Franklin Amphitheater by the city after her death.

Last year, a section of the Lodge Freeway was dedicated in Franklin's honor. The stretch of M-10 from Livernois to Interstate 94 was revealed as the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway in August 2020 by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and other state and city leaders. 

The dedicated stretch of freeway was marked with a sign located on the Lodge near Pallister in New Center visible for those traveling north and south.

Fannie Tyler, Franklin's former personal assistant, said Monday that Franklin always prioritized "the less fortunate people" and said "she came from a family of giving."