VA. POLL TAX

The civil war shattered the pattern of disfranchising blacks. 4 million slaves were suddenly transformed into citizens possessing the right to vote. The radical wing of the Republican party by Mr. Summer's shelf, and as you know , or didn't know , in Boston, Massachusetts slaves had a right to vote.

DEFINITION OF POLL TAX

Poll Tax a uniformed tax levied on every adult in the community. Poll Taxes are traceable to ancient tax systems and have been criticized as an unfair burden on the poor. Historically, in the U.S., they were enacted in south as a prerequisite for voting disfranchising many African Americans and poor whites. The Supreme Court extended the ruling to all elections.

A BRAVE WOMAN

One major influence that got rid of the "Poll Tax" was a lady by the name of Evelyn T. Butts. Butts was born May 22,1924. The second of six children. Her farther was a laborer and when she turned ten her mother died.

The 24th Amendment to the U.S. constitution ratified in 1964 that made it illegal for a state to use payment to all taxes as a requirement to vote in the national elections. Few blacks could vote because they had a little money. The poll tax to vote was $1.50. But one woman didn't agree with the Poll Tax . So she took it to court. In Oct.1965, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Butts appeal.

In 1966 the Supreme Court of the United States declared Poll Taxes unconstitutional. If they were used as requirements for voting in the state and local elections. It violated the equal protection that guaranteed by amendment 14th of the constitution.

VA. POLL TAX KILLED BY COURT

Her attorney Joseph A. Jordan Jr., was forced to argue in the case with U.S. Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall who later became a U.S. Supreme Court justice. They eliminated the Poll Tax in March 1966, two and a half years after Butts sued. After the decision, Butts said, ''The victory was a accomplishment for blacks and whites who could not afford to pay the tax.'' Butts and her attorney, Joseph A. Jordan, were all at smiles as they celebrated the Supreme Court's reversal of Virginia's Poll Tax in 1966.

BUTTS AFTER THE TRIUMPHANT EVENT

Butts later became active in numerous civic, community, and political organizations. Butts received dozens of awards for her service. Among her many accomplishments was her appointment as the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority in 1975. In November 1995, Evelyn Butts had a street named in her honor.

Our Voter Education & Registration Resources