This first-time contributor, a 2013 Wayne State graduate who lives in Detroit, is a community planner and preservation specialist who works with the Detroit Land Bank Authority. Her article is adapted with permission from Fracebook.
Photos and text by Claire Nowak-Boyd
During Detroit’s extended farewell for Aretha Franklin, admirers come to New Bethel Baptist Church on the west side to leave tributes, share conversations and reflect on a legend who worshipped and sang there.
Even at 11 p.m. on Monday night, people were still coming by to visit, were talking to each other about her life, debating whether next week’s funeral will be something they can attend, and asking strangers to take their photo in front of the impromptu memorial.
Editor’s note: The church is five blocks north of West Grand Boulevard on Lindwood Street, also called C.L. Franklin Boulevard in honor of the singer’s father, a minister and civil rights activist. He led the congregation at several sites from 1946-79, and died at age 69 just five years after retiring as pastor. The current building, a renovated former theater, has been the church’s home since 1963.
Franklin, who died Aug. 16 at 76, will lie on view at New Bethel from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 30, a day before her invitation-only funeral at the larger Greater Grace Temple on West Seven Mile Road.
One of those coming faithfully is Terry Tarrant, who I’ve seen nearly every time I’ve stopped by New Bethel. Terry is the reason the memorial of flowers, balloons, cards and posters looks so tidy and pretty. He maintains it and frequently rearranges items to make it look its best. He’s the reason why it is different every single time I see it, with elements shifted around. He’s constantly perfecting.
He is not affiliated with the church, but has made an agreement with them that he will keep it nice and will remove it on the day that Aretha is buried, Aug. 31. Terry deserves a shoutout for taking on this community task, and for making sure that the memorial is one Detroit can be especially proud of.
The Wright Museum has asked Terry Tarrant to gather people’s signatures and messages in a book, which will be entered into the museum.
So if you want to sign, stop by New Bethel, 8430 C. L. Franklin Blvd. Terry is there, tending the memorial every day.