NORFOLK, Va. - For the first time in Virginia history, voters can go to the polls this year and cast their ballot early without providing a reason. It’s a long way from the days when the state required a poll tax of Black people and poor white people to exercise their right to vote.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander is taking this moment to pay homage to those who helped to overturn those obstacles to voters’ rights.
Mayor Alexander is writing a book about Norfolk’s Evelyn Butts. She sued the governor of Virginia in 1963 to overturn the poll tax on the grounds that it violated the 14th Amendment.
The mayor wrote about the local civil rights icon in a dissertation that he is turning into a book. But more than that, he wants today’s generation to know how she and others paved the way to civil rights.
There is a street named for Butts in her former Oakwood neighborhood, and there are plans for a highway marker.
Mayor Alexander said his book featuring local history makers is scheduled for release in February of next year.