How a poor Virginia seamstress took on Jim Crow, beat the poll tax and changed her city forever
by Charlene Butts Ligon
Pub Date 30 Nov 2017
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Fearless: How a poor Virginia seamstress took on Jim Crow, beat the poll tax and changed her city forever is about Evelyn T. Butts. A poor seamstress who became a forceful and courageous voting rights champion and won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that abolished the poll tax.
In Fearless, we see Mrs. Butts as a mother and active citizen who works tirelessly to improve the lives of family members and neighbors, while also joining or leading battles against discrimination in employment, public schools, neighborhood services and voter access. While Norfolk, Virginia, and its environs are the backdrop for the story of Evelyn Butts' life and activism, there are lessons that can apply to all communities and readers of all ages. There are always new obstacles, even in voting rights, the poll tax was an important part of American history that should not be forgotten because we must stay vigilant about continued attempts at voter suppression, which keeps coming back in new forms.
That's why we need to continue to learn and keep the message going from generation to generation.
"When she saw an injustice, she organized to make change. She was a powerful force to be reckoned with, loved by many, feared by others. She knew the meaning of persistence and subsequently was a powerful influence," Ligon said. "I'm hoping that this book will appeal to young readers especially. People need to participate, and I think this book can help guide them."
"Fearless ought to be required reading for every high school student in Virginia. It is the inside story of the struggle for basic American rights, told from the perspective of those who lived through the oppression and fought for change. Any discussion of the impact of the poll tax or civil rights in Virginia, would be incomplete without an understanding of the life and accomplishments of Evelyn Butts."
-Chuck Robb, former Virginia governor and former US senator