More Debate On Calhoun County’s Name And Possible Change
Calhoun County Administrator Kelli Scott is painfully aware the county was named after a segregationist and slave owner. Most people have never given the naming connection a second thought. But in light of the racial equity issues blowing up across the nation following the recent death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, that is changing. A community group in Battle Creek is asking for open dialogue with area leaders and residents about changing Calhoun County’s name to something more acceptable. Administrator Scott admits the name may be offensive to some, but reminds county residents the name actually came from a decision by the state legislature. Administrator Scott is posting a long message about the potentially explosive issue, including a link to a new page on the county website that may facilitate countywide discussion about whether the name Calhoun County needs to be formally addressed. Here is the full text of Administrator Scott’s Message to the community:
“Calhoun County was named by the Michigan Territorial Legislature in 1829, along with nine other counties in southern Michigan, for members of President Andrew Jackson's cabinet. Over the years, the County's administration has discussed this history and how to address the fact that John C. Calhoun supported slavery. The legal advice we've received is that changing the County's name would require at least a legislative action and possibly a State constitutional amendment. Neither the Board of Commissioners nor our countywide electorate has the ability to simply vote on a new name. Especially in light of recent racial injustice and violence, conversation has reignited about renaming our county. An article was written in the Battle Creek Enquirer, where we heard from community leaders about this idea.
We've developed a page on our website expanding on this discussion, with a clear statement on Calhoun County Government's stand against discriminatory and racist beliefs such as those held by John C. Calhoun. As an organization we have no tolerance for harassing or violent actions and instead support inclusiveness and peaceful ways to express individuality. We acknowledge the history behind our County name. We strongly believe that it has nothing to do with where we have been, where we are going, and what we stand for as a county. The mission of Calhoun County government is "building a better community through responsive leadership." Police brutality that leads to the death of black people is the antithesis to how we hope to lead as public servants. We welcome broader conversations about how to turn anger and negative energy, fueled by the history associated with our county name, into positive energy that allows us to stand together for what’s right.”
Calhoun County Administrator/Controller Kelli Scott