Ella Scarborough, a longtime Mecklenburg County commissioner and political trailblazer, dies at 75

Ella Scarborough, Mecklenburg County commissioner and Charlotte groundbreaker, passed away on Tuesday, May 24 at the age of 75.

Throughout her life, Scarborough was a pillar in the Queen City, serving on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners from her election in 2014 until this year. 

The Sumter, South Carolina native was the first African American female to be elected to the Charlotte City Council where she served from 1987–1997.  From 2016 to 2018, she served as Chair, the first African American woman elected to that position. 

Scarborough advocated for youth literacy and solutions to homelessness during her time on the board. She also chaired the Board of County Commissioners’ Economic Development Committee.

“I met Ella when I first ran for elected office and we became friends. We both grew up in SC and embraced Charlotte as our new home,” said Mayor Vi Lyles via Twitter. “Her death is a significant loss for the city we both came to love. My thoughts are with her children, who are as smart & dynamic as their mother.”

Scarborough ran for U.S. Senate in 1998 and for Charlotte mayor in 1999 and 2001. In 2008, Commissioner Scarborough served as a North Carolina delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

In recent years, Scarborough struggled with health and mobility issues. She began medical leave from the county board in February.

“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 in a statement.

“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 in a better place today due to her dedication,” he said.

Scarborough was a graduate of South Carolina State University and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She also served as 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.

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

She was a member of Friendship Baptist Church.

She, widow of Levern “Pete” Scarborough, leaves behind by her two children, Troy and Tori, her siblings and a number of nieces and nephews.

Funeral services will be handled by Chris King Memorial Chapel in Chester, S.C.

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