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    How Our Aretha Franklin Banner for The Wright Appeared on TV

    Aretha Franklin was a musical icon, and her recent passing was a huge blow for the city. While the singer died in her home on August 16th, adoring fans across the country are still celebrating her career weeks later. Detroit Sign Factory was fortunate enough to work with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (commonly referred to as “the Wright”) to hang their large-format banner to memorialize “the Queen”.

    We want to tell the story about all the celebrations that led up to our banner being shown on Monday Night Football, but we also want to share some of the tributes that happened and that are happening across the city that show why the late singer is so deserving of our R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

    A New Exhibit at an Amazing Establishment

    The Wright’s exhibit opened this week on September 25th. It’s called Think, and the museum is calling it “A Tribute to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.” There seems to be no better venue for such an exhibit.

    Founded in 1965, the Wright is named after a famous local doctor who felt that it was important for the city to have a museum dedicated to the African-American experience. When the museum first opened, it was called the International Afro-American Museum (I AM for short). The organization also had a traveling version of the museum based out of a mobile home, “touring the state and spreading information about the contributions of African Americans.”

    Today, the museum is located in a 125,000 square-foot facility. According to the organization’s website, it’s the largest museum in the world dedicated to African American history. Because this museum is so important, Franklin’s estate chose to have the public viewing for her at the Wright on August 28th and 29th.

    The Ren Cen Gets a Makeover

    On the day of the funeral procession, General Motors decided to make a gesture of their own to honor Franklin and her role in this city’s history.

    On the top of the Renaissance Center is a large LED screen (more about LEDs here) that typically shows the logos for GM and its numerous divisions. However, on the day of the funeral, the company programmed its electronic message center to turn pink and to show the word “Respect.”

    In the late ‘80s, Franklin was featured in commercials for Chevy, a division of GM. In addition, in 1985, she released the song “Freeway of Love,” which mentioned Ford and Cadillac (another GM company) in its lyrics. GM’s LED tribute seemed to be both an homage to the city’s loss of an icon but also to a member of the company’s family. Her funeral procession to and from the church included hundreds of pink Cadillacs thanks to local residents and Mary Kay Cosmetics professionals from all across the country.

    Rolling Stone Picks Up the Story

    After it was announced that the Wright would be debuting their Think exhibit in September, the Detroit Free Press ran a story about it. The museum gave the Free Press early access to the exhibit, which allowed the publication to share photos of the various displays.

    On the same day, Rolling Stone, a nationally circulated music magazine, posted their own article about Think, giving the exhibit press on an even larger scale.

    Aretha Franklin Memorial

    How our Aretha Franklin Banner Got on TV

    During Monday Night Football’s season opener on September 10th, the organization paid tribute to Franklin as well. The game between the New York Jets and the Lions at Ford Field featured a two-minute video of R & B group Boyz II Men and singer Tori Kelly performing Franklin’s “Rock Steady.” My Facebook page was flooded the next day with people commenting that they had seen our banner on Monday Night Football!

    This banner is such a strong statement to keep her memory alive in the city that she called home. Detroit is up to the challenge to keep Aretha Franklin’s legacy and impact alive.

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