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​Ella Scarborough Remembered and Celebrated as a Trailblazer in Mecklenburg County

5/25/2022

Mecklenburg County is celebrating the life of County Commissioner Ella Scarborough and paying tribute to her many decades of public service. Commissioner Scarborough passed away on Tuesday, May 24 at the age of 75.

Throughout her life, Ella Butler Scarborough was a pillar in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community. She served on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners since her election at-large in 2014 until this year. From 2016 to 2018, she served as Chair, the first African American woman to be elected to that position. During her time on the Board, Commissioner Scarborough advocated for youth literacy and for solutions to homelessness. She also chaired the Board of County Commissioners' Economic Development Committee.

Previously, Commissioner Scarborough made history as the first African American woman to be elected to the Charlotte City Council, serving from 1987–1997 (district and at-large). She was also a statewide candidate for U.S. Senate in 1998 and ran for Charlotte mayor in 1999 and 2001. In 2008, Commissioner Scarborough served as a North Carolina delegate at the Democratic National Convention. In the 1960s, during her youth in South Carolina, she became known for her activity in the civil rights movement.

"Commissioner Scarborough was a trailblazer throughout her life, serving the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community in so many capacities, and fighting for racial justice and integration from an early age," said George Dunlap, Chairman of the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners. "Her passion was limitless and her loss is immeasurable. Our prayers go out to her family, friends and the entire Mecklenburg County community that is a better place today due to her dedication."

Commissioner Scarborough was elected to the Board of County Commissioners less than a year after the appointment of County Manager Dena R. Diorio.

"Working with Commissioner Scarborough for nearly my entire tenure as County Manager and her entire tenure on the Board opened my eyes to new perspectives on how to help our community," said Diorio. "She had a boundless desire to serve, demonstrated every day since childhood by her commitment to neighbors and fellow residents, especially communities of color and women. She was incredibly kind, had a beautiful heart and her steady voice, guidance and leadership will be greatly missed by myself and the thousands of employees who serve Mecklenburg County government."

Beyond her duties as an elected official, Commissioner Scarborough was a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., where she served as president of Tau Theta Zeta Chapter (2007-2010); former national board chair of the Election Committee; president of the North Carolina League of Municipalities; national chair of the Public Utilities Librarians; president of the Metrolina Librarians' Association; president of the Black Women's Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg's legendary "Blackberry Bunch" to fund community programs and other civil organizations.

Commissioner Scarborough is listed in Who's Who in the World of Women 1980 and the Who's Who in Special Libraries and Information Sciences 1982 for excellence in her capacity to research, assemble and archive significant data and information.

Commissioner Scarborough was a member of Friendship Baptist Church. She was a devoted mother to two children and widow of Levern "Pete" Scarborough. She graduated from South Carolina State University with a degree in library science education and earned a master's degree from the University of Charleston in West Virginia in organizational leadership.

Services for Commissioner Scarborough are being handled by Chris King Memorial Chapel in Chester, SC.

Click here for an album with images of Commissioner Scarborough at work for Mecklenburg County.