Democracy Voices - Shelton McElroy, Jefferson County

Shelton McElroy lives in Louisville with his 8-year-old daughter Jasmin. He teaches at Jefferson Community and Technical College and is involved in various community organization. Shelton shares his story as a former felon.

"At 18yrs old I aged out of foster care. I had been chronically homeless for several years. To make it, I sold marijuana, and I got caught. While going to court for that charge, I tried to brake into the home of another drug dealer and was caught doing that as well. Less than 6 months after my 18th birthday I once again became a ward of the state. I was sentenced to 4 years in the Kentucky State Reformatory. Not much reform took place, but I did manage to earn myself 3 additional years behind maximum-security walls, for climbing a sixteen-foot tall razor wire fence (Escape). September 22nd 2002, I served out my sentence day for day, went in at 18, got out at 25. Over 11 years later and no return to the life I use to live. I have an 8-year-old daughter who I've raised every day of her life, she needs me and I need her. Our lives are intermingled in a way that cannot be untangled by crime, imprisonment, or discrimination based on my past involvement in both. My daughter deserves the best, and one day at a time I do my damnedest to provide. However to not be recognized as a citizen, or the inability to acquire employment based on information unrelated to the job qualifications diminishes not only my value, but the value of my entire household."

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To participate in the political process of the United States of America is as fundamental of a right as it is to pay taxes. Not if I pay, however, when I pay, I shall be allowed to participate in the operations in which those tax dollars are distributed. Sales tax, property tax, income tax, etc. "No taxation without representation", is not just a fancy slogan that one or another political group can proclaim, yet deny the voting rights of the countless Americans who have served their time and reaclimated into their communities. Crispus Attucks was the first to fall for this true democratic principle. Will you join us as we reach for the highest of heights in which democracy as envisioned by Martin Luther king Jr. is sought.  On the eve of the 50th year anniversary on the march on Washington, I beseech ye brethren and ladies please join me in restoring the voting rights of thousands of kentuckians.  

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