Detroit Council Votes To Rename Park For Aretha Franklin

The park will operate under its new name, the Aretha Louise Franklin Amphitheater, starting next year.

Aretha Franklin Way in Detroit
Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

The park will operate under its new name, the Aretha Louise Franklin Amphitheater, starting next year.

Detroit’s City Council unanimously approved a motion to rename a park in honor of Aretha Franklin on Tuesday, according to the Detroit News. City Council President Brenda Jones, Mayor Mike Duggan, and Franklin’s family were on hand to announce that Chene Park would be renamed to the Aretha Louise Franklin Amphitheater.

Mayor Duggan first announced the proposal on Friday during the memorial service for the Queen of Soul. Franklin died August 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.

The legendary singer had a close relationship with a hometown that she loved and that has shown in recent years that they love her back. When Detroit renamed a street after her last year, she had tears in her eyes as she thanked the city council for the honor.

“I knew I would get weepy when I got down here.”

Crystal Franklin said the honor would have surprised her humble aunt.

“It would have been so off the radar for her.”

But it would be a fitting tribute to a woman who loved her city. “It will definitely solidify her place in history,” Franklin, 45, told reporters after the resolution was adopted. “For generations to come, young people will grow up and say ‘who is Aretha Franklin and what did she do?'”

Detroit’s city council will formalize the measure into law this week. The park’s new name should be in place by the beginning of the 2019-20 season.

Chene Park, which opened in 1985, was originally named for Charles Chene, a French immigrant who owned land in the area. It was also the location for a grand tribute concert for Franklin last week, where over 6,000 fans enjoyed a tribute to Franklin featuring a variety of performers covering a range of her classic songs.

While the proposal had unanimous support from the council, not everyone in the public agreed. The Rev. W.J. Rideout, a local activist, says Franklin deserves a larger tribute.

“She was not just an ordinary person. Let’s give credit where credit is due. The time is now to say ‘let’s do something bigger and better than this for Aretha Franklin.'”

But city officials say that the feedback they’ve gotten has been “overwhelmingly positive,” as reported by the Detroit News. The mayor’s chief of staff, Alexis Wiley, said in a statement, “Most important is that the Franklin family is fully supportive of this gesture, and we want to honor their wishes.”