Brooklyn Boro

Proposed mural at Brooklyn subway station seeks to honor Aretha Franklin

August 21, 2018 By Sara Bosworth Brooklyn Daily Eagle
AP Photo/Shea Walsh, file

Early Thursday morning last week, hours after the news of Aretha Franklin’s death broke, commuters boarding the train at the Franklin Avenue subway station in Brooklyn noticed a change.

On almost every sign that said “Franklin,” the word “Aretha” had been stenciled onto the wall directly above, in hot pink chalk paint. This was the work of LeRoy McCarthy, a 50-year-old location manager and music enthusiast who was moved to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul.

McCarthy enlisted the help of a street artist friend and the two set to work around Brooklyn, adding the singer’s name to every sign they could find. The next day, MTA workers removed the lettering, but the volume of attention the art garnered on social media channels was enough for McCarthy. “It lasted long enough to make an impression,” he told Curbed.

This is not McCarthy’s first stint with honoring music artists in Brooklyn. Five years ago, he started a petition to name a Bedford-Stuyvesant street corner after Christopher Wallace — also known as Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G.

That petition didn’t get past the community board, but now McCarthy is trying once again to get the borough on board with a new project. Curbed reported that McCarthy is currently in discussions with the MTA’s Arts & Design department about creating a permanent homage to Aretha Franklin at the Franklin Avenue station at Fulton Street. The installation would read “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” in big, black block letters, a permanent tribute to one of the singer’s most famous songs.

“We have ever-lasting respect for Aretha, so we’ll work something out to honor her legacy,” said Jon Weinstein, spokesman for the MTA, in a statement.

McCarthy is optimistic about the project.

“Some people will make the instant connection of Aretha Franklin, but the word respect is something … that transfers to the community,” he said. “It transfers to police officers, it transfers to drivers and bicyclists. A lot of eyes will be on that.”

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