Norfolk city treasurer reflects on history of poll tax after finding receipt in family belongings

Posted at 5:12 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 17:12:42-04

NORFOLK, Va. - When some elected officials go to the polls this November, they will be remembering the sacrifices of those who came before them.

One of those people is Norfolk City Treasurer Daun Sessoms Hester.

The treasurer's grandmother and father struggled to pay a poll tax in order to exercise their right to vote. The poll tax emerged in the late 19th century as part of Jim Crow laws.

Those laws were often used to restrict the voting rights of Black Americans, Native Americans, as well as poor whites.

Hester found a copy of the poll tax her family paid among her father’s belongings when he passed away, and she said it inspires her each Election Day.

Virginia’s poll tax charged citizens of the Commonwealth annually for registering to vote, and continued in Virginia until the US Supreme Court overturned it in 1966.

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