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Muskegon County commissioner attempts, fails to honor Black slave owner

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Posted at 3:15 PM, Feb 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-16 15:54:59-05

MUSKEGON, Mich. — A Muskegon County commissioner tried and failed to pass a resolution honoring a slave owner in the name of Black History Month.

Malinda Pego represents the northern-most portion of Muskegon County, including the area of Holton Township.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Pego proposed a resolution to honor William Ellison for Black History Month.

The resolution failed. Only Pego voted in its favor.

Ellison was a Black slave owner.

Pego states in her resolution Ellison should be honored because of his financial accomplishments as a Black man.

News articles written about Ellison from the perspective of his ancestors recall him as a brutal owner who financially profited after becoming a freed slave.

Instead of honoring Ellison, the county commission voted to recognize one of their own.

Commissioner Rillastine Wilkins was recognized for her decades of service in Muskegon County. Wilkins was the first Black female mayor of Muskegon Heights.

You can read both resolutions in the commissioner meeting agenda below.

Muskegon County Commissioners Agenda and Resolutions by WXMI on Scribd