With a stencil and some spray chalk, an artist placed the name Aretha next to the word Franklin throughout the Franklin Avenue train station in Bedford-Stuyvesant back on August 16. That's the day Aretha Franklin, the legendary Queen of Soul, died.
The MTA eventually removed the unauthorized tributes, except fors one sitting way up above a window along the elevated Franklin Avenue Shuttle.
The singer was not a New Yorker, but she was definitely revered here.
"Aretha is a legend. She was a legend to us," said one commuter.
"I love Aretha Franklin. I used to dance to her music when I was a little girl," said another.
Although the MTA took down the stenciled Arethas, it did place small Respect signs in the station, a tribute to her most famous song.
Now, there’s a campaign for the MTA to go much bigger: to paint the word Respect on a blank station wall outside the Franklin Avenue stop.
"Let's celebrate Aretha Franklin. Let's celebrate art and creativity, and a beautiful voice and a beautiful person," said LeRoy McCarthy, who is leading the charge.
McCarthy considers himself a cultural advocate and was successful in convincing the City Council to approve street co-namings for Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G. and Staten Island hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. McCarthy says the Franklin Avenue wall is a perfect spot. Not only does it need sprucing up, but the song title is as powerful as Franklin's voice.,
"It's a message that transcends," McCarthy said. "If people see it and don't think of Aretha Franklin and just think respect, that's beneficial to everyone involved."
Commuters NY1 spoke with agree.
"I think that's a beautiful thing," said one commuter. "Respect is very honorable. It's needed in the community."
"It would be wonderful if we can have it right here," said another.
The MTA says it's in talks with McCarthy about the project but wouldn't confirm it was a go. However, McCarthy hopes things move quickly to have the big bold tribute up by March 25, the day Aretha Franklin would've turned 77 years old.