Motown legend Stevie Wonder calls for unity after ugly presidential election

Stevie Wonder during the unveiling of a street named after the Motown legend. All photos by Steve Neavling.

Stevie Wonder delivered a message of tolerance and peace in Detroit during the unveiling of a road named after the Motown Legend on Wednesday afternoon.

The Saginaw native, who moved to Detroit as a young child, said Michigan residents should not give up hope after the state narrowly went to Donald Trump in the presidential election.

“Don’t let the color of the state define who you are,” Wonder said, referring to Michigan going red. “Don’t let negativity say this is who you are. Don’t let hatred and ignorance determine who you are.”

Wonder criticized Trump before the election, saying voting for the billionaire is as outrageous as asking the blind musician to drive someone to the hospital.

“We are on a journey,” Wonder said at the ceremony. “And when I think about this street now being Stevie Wonder Avenue, I want all of us to walk down the street that leads us to a place of humanity, of equality, of fairness and respect.”

After the ceremony, Wonder told reporters that Trump must be more inclusive.

“It’s a great thing to say we’re going to make America great again, but really America has always been great; we just are gonna make it greater, and so that takes a coming together of all people,” Wonder said. “There is a lesson that has been shown by President Barack Obama: It says we have to come together and work together and be together as a united people of this nation.”

The city renamed Milwaukee Avenue after the musician as a way to say thanks for the inspiring music. Wonder lived in a now-demolished house on Milwaukee Avenue.

During the ceremony, Mayor Mike Duggan said, “We’re here to say, ‘Welcome home, Stevie Wonder.’”

“Mr. Wonder, your music spans generations,” Duggan said before handing the musician a key to the city. “Your music spoke to the mood of a nation. Today you continue to raise our collective consciousness. You advocated for peace and pushed a badly divided nation to come together.”

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.