I picked this piece from a daily news site featuring investigative reporting and news analysis from the perspective of communities of color, called Colorlines. First of all, this media outlet lies in alignment with my interest in highlighting, amplifying, and honoring the voices of people of color. Secondly, I came to know about this outlet while researching and learning during an internship task. Thirdly, being an international student and only having visited and lived in the US (as a first-timer) because of college, I had no idea who Aretha Franklin was prior to this.
As the unapologetic one in terms of googling every single narrative of American pop culture and lifestyle in general, the first time I googled Aretha Franklin was about a week ago. There I was, confused yet ever-interested, when Rishi, our community partner and Executive Director for GreenLight Fund Detroit, mentioned her name, and I “dm-ed” my co-intern. What’s the exact name of the legendary singer/activist? How do you spell that name?
This incidence pretty much sums my interaction and learning about Detroit and the US as a whole. The past two-ish weeks were undoubtedly overwhelming but incredibly illuminating. They helped me know a lot about the history of Detroit (why Detroit? How did Detroit come into being? How did Detroit evolve into what it is today?), especially for a virtual setting. Aretha Franklin’s biography of being a singer prodigy - singing solos in churches by the age of 14 and releasing her first debut “Songs of Faith” in the same year is astonishingly impressive. Her indomitable spirit in being the voice for many who do not (did not) have the same platform continues to inspire millions up to this day.
The link in the article is a TIME feature of her performance in 2016. This feature of the same young girl grew up courageous and miraculous in many ways, a preacher’s daughter who sang for 70 long years. Her story is one of a Detroiter. Many prominent historical and current shaping of the USA, including Duke Alum Ken Jeong and renowned rapper Eminem, are Detroiters!