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House where Aretha was born draws crowd

406 Lucy is being adorned with salutes to the late Aretha Franklin, who was born there. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku}

As fans in myriad cities and towns in various parts of the world absorb the news that Aretha Franklin has passed, a stream of them are making their way to a stretch of Lucy St. in South Memphis where the “Queen of Soul” was born.

(Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

On Friday morning, a day after Franklin died in Detroit while in hospice care, City of Memphis workers were out cutting the grass around the house at 406 Lucy. The workers, too, took out their cameras to snap shots of the vacant building that once had been home for Franklin.

Pastor Gloria Wright works with children in the surrounding neighborhood. She was there to pay her respects to Franklin and survey the scene.

“I do a youth outreach ministry; pick up the children and take them to church. We’re going to do something tomorrow (Saturday) at our church for her (Franklin). We’re gonna kind of march them back around here so they can meet the different celebrities.”

Wright is prayerful that more can be done to help the children and others in the neighborhood.

Dorothy Ann Walls. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

Wright spotted Dorothy Ann Walls as she stood on the front porch of her nearby home. Walls, she said, had a family connection to Franklin

“My sister-in-law adopted her when she left here and went to Detroit. She’s been dead, a good long time,” Walls said, having learned of the connection much later.

“I was shocked yesterday when a lady told me (that Franklin had died.) I was standing right out here. I didn’t cry, though. I just started thinking about her. She had gotten so little (from illness), so tiny. …I’ve got some of her records and CDs that I play quite a bit.”

Walls has lived in the house where she stays for 21 years. “Houses,” she said when asked what she would like to see happen in the neighborhood. “This used to be full of houses. There used to be a store right there (across the street). There used to be house up where Aretha Franklin’s house is.”

(Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

The extra traffic in the neighborhood is no bother, Walls said. “It’s fine. I’m used to people.”

To view Pastor Gloria Wright’s reflection:



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