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Bellevue woman writes book about her moms legacy during civil rights

Charlene said her mom was best know for her achievements in Virginia like beating the poll tax, which required citizens to pay a fee to vote.

BELLEVUE, Neb. — Charlene Ligon said she worked on her book "Fearless" for about 10 years.

She wrote about her mom, Evelyn T. Butts who at the time was a poor seamstress in Norfolk, Virginia, wife to a disabled army vet, and mother.

Charlene said her mom was best know for her achievements in Virginia like beating the poll tax, which required citizens to pay a fee to vote.

She also took on Jim Crow which were laws that enforced racial segregation in the South.

"Taken a case to knock down the poll tax, originally the case was filed in 1963, but it made its way to the Supreme Court in 1966," Ligon said.

At the time, poll tax was used as a requirement to vote. Charlene's mom wanted everyone to get that opportunity.

"The poll tax was only a dollar and 50 cents. For a lot of people, that was a lot of money, and not only were African Americans being disenfranchised, so were poor white people," she said.

Charlene's mom was the commissioner for the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Commission that helped improve the housing conditions in Norfolk, Virginia. She also ran for a city board position.

"I think it was 1980 when she ran for city council a couple of times, three times as a matter of fact, and she didn't make it," Ligon said.


Evelyn T. Butts fought for the people in Virginia, according to Charlene. It is something Charlene was able to witness firsthand during the time of desegregation of schools in Norfolk , Virginia.

"I went to court with her every day so I actually watched it all happen and as a matter of fact witnessed her testifying during those proceedings," Ligon said.

Her mom was also credited for helping over 3,000 voters register.

Charlene is following her example with her political activism in Nebraska.

"I'm the chair of the Sarpy County Democrats, and also for the last 10 years, I've served as the secretary of the Nebraska Democrat Party," Ligon said.

One thing Charlene says her mom would want people to take back from her legacy is to exercise your rights and vote, especially young people.

Currently, millennials continue to have the lowest voter turnout of any age group, according to Pew Research.

"I know my mom would say you have to vote. Voting is your voice," Ligon said.

Chuck Robb, a former Virginia governor and former United States senator, also endorsed "Fearless."

Click here for more information about Charlene's book "Fearless."




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