The Austin Weekly News lost its go-to reporter and the woman known as mother to the paper and its staff this past Saturday. Delores McCain was 68 years old.
She had been hospitalized since late July with pneumonia, following a two-year battle with leukemia. A reporter for Austin Weekly News since 2000, she didn’t have a background in journalism, but became “the face of the paper” says Dan Haley, the paper’s publisher.
She was never shy about getting involved in community activism. It came naturally to her, especially in her late teens and early 20s when she was one of many young people who joined the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, first in her native Milwaukee and later when she moved to Chicago. Her sense of the community didn’t end at Austin’s borders. She sometimes traveled to the South Side to cover issues of interest to the entire black community.
In 2006 and early 2007, Delores was one of the first reporters in the north to cover the Jena Six – the group of black male high school teens in Jena, La., convicted of beating a white student. Readers of the Austin Weekly News often remarked that they had not heard of the Jena Six until reading about them in the Austin Weekly News. She also doggedly covered the shooting and trial of Howard Morgan, the retired Chicago cop who survived multiple bullets from the guns of Chicago Police following a traffic stop in 2005.
In April of this year, she received an honorable mention at the Illinois Press Association’s annual awards for her Austin Weekly News coverage.
After moving to Chicago in 1963, she became involved with Operation Breadbasket, a national program of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; the Chicago branch was headed by Jesse Jackson. She was an original member of the Breadbasket’s choir and later became active in Jackson ‘s Operation PUSH; she was also a committee member of Black People Against Police Brutality.
AWN and the entire West Side community mourn her loss and will miss her involvement.