Lawmakers want to award Aretha Franklin the Congressional Gold Medal

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
In this Nov. 7, 2017 file photo, Aretha Franklin attends the Elton John AIDS Foundation's 25th Anniversary Gala in New York.

Washington — Lawmakers are pushing to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, who died in August at age 76. 

Members of Congress are reintroducing legislation that would distinguish Franklin with the highest civilian award given by Congress "in recognition of her artistic and historical significance and her outstanding contributions to culture in the United States."

The bill was originally introduced in August 2018 shortly after Franklin’s passing, but Congress didn't act on it. 

The legislation's sponsors include U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing; Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township; Kamala Harris, D-California, and Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.

They say the legislation would honor Franklin’s "role in shaping the nation’s culturally and socially relevant discography, and highlight her life as an example of how one person’s talents can make a difference in the lives of millions of people across the globe."

“Aretha Franklin was soul personified and she gave us the gift of her voice, her truth and her unapologetic passion to demand compassion, love and R-E-S-P-E-C-T for women everywhere,” said Lawrence, who was friends with Franklin.

"An iconic entertainer, powerful civil rights leader and a beautiful spirit who I was privileged to call friend. She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing legislation to honor her legacy with a well-deserved  Congressional Gold Medal.”

Past recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include former Sen. Bob Dole, Jack Nicklaus, Neil Armstrong, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Tuskegee Airmen.