Persistence: Evelyn Butts and the African American Quest for Full Citizenship and Self-Determination
Persistence tells the deep, rich story of Evelyn Thomas Butts (1924-1993), an African American civil rights crusader in Norfolk, Virginia, whose nontraditional leadership and creative initiatives remain as models for political, community, and social change.
A courageous, low-income seamstress, Mrs. Butts is best-known for her 1963 lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1966 ruling to ban poll taxes from state and local elections. However, author Dr. Kenneth Cooper Alexander, shows that Butts’ legacy from her grassroots heyday is also built on what she did following her court victory to help African Americans and poor Whites more fully participate in the political accountability of her community.
After knocking out the poll tax, Mrs. Butts began knocking on doors, relentlessly encouraging voter participation to help marginalized citizens stay connected with the national Civil Rights Movement. These efforts relied heavily on many unsung grassroots leaders-especially women-to overthrow America’s Jim Crow system of segregation and suppression.
Standing amid the continuum of Black resistance leaders questing for freedom, civil rights, equality, justice, dignity, and self-determination, Mrs. Butts helped reshape the politics of Norfolk, a feat that continues to reverberate today.
Leadership, Management & Business
History | Leadership Studies | United States History
Alexander, K. C. (2021). Persistence: Evelyn Butts and the African American Quest for Full Citizenship and Self-Determination. https://aura.antioch.edu/stubooks/49