Good day Commissioners, Judge Jenkins and people of Dallas County, my name is Shelley McCann. I am a current employee of the Dallas County elections department.
I have been in the elections industry since 1989 starting with Business Records, then Election Systems and Software and finally now with Dallas County elections.
Over the years, I have seen many obstacles. I have looked the ugly face of racism directly in the eye. From the time I began my quest to understand why people judge by the color of their skin, the nationality of a person’s being or the religion that they practice. I have watched many men and women fight for equality, including myself.
When I was a freshman in high school in Midwestern Illinois, my friends were bused in from the South end of town. I knew no different. Color I did not see. This was my family. These were my brothers and sisters. We knew only one thing and it was our salvation, it was track.
We escaped the racism, the rumors that were whispered in the halls about where we came from or who we talked too. We came together on the cinder circle and we were good, no we formed greatness. When we traveled to other schools many teams would not come and when they did they were in awe.
Our team was one, there were no individuals, and there was no hate. Every event was one for the family. It was survival to show us that we always there for one another no matter what. Support from each other is what we relied upon because outside of our family there was constant conflict.
When we all were seniors, many of us went to college on scholarships. Scattered across the country we kept in touch; Running against each other at various meets. We were banned from receiving any pay or sponsors because that would interfere with our eligibility for the Olympic Games. So the AAU controlled us. We were told where we could go and what we could do. They paid us $3 a day and we slept in unspeakable rooms but we were running for the United States. Steve Prefontaine fought for us and in 1978 the AAU as we knew it was abolished.
So people ask me, why do you still run and compete? I run because it is my track family that is in my heart forever. That closeness that we had that no one will ever know unless they have been in the “track family” before. Our generation shattered the race barrier, the gender barrier and the freedom as an athlete barrier. It paved roads for generations of runners to come.
So look beside you, people of Dallas County, we ARE your family. Would you let your family down, would you disrespect your family, would you protect your family against anyone or anything? You would stand proud with your family. A family is one, together. You have made this choice to enter into this family called Dallas County.
It is not only our duty as leaders to forge ahead together hand in hand as one, but we must show our young people more than ever that we must forgive, we must join together for if there is ever to be a change it must come from us.
I pray every day that somehow things will become civil again in Dallas County, my second home, for they are my family too.