Poll Tax

How many of my readers lived in a state that required a poll tax? If you did, do you remember the occasion? I remember mine quite clearly. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, poll tax means “a tax of a fixed amount per person levied on adults and often linked to the right to vote.”

Seven years ago, I wrote another post about poll tax, and at the time, I had not found this little piece of paper. If you are interested, you might check it out for more information, as well as a photo of me at age 21.

How this tattered remnant of my “exemption” receipt managed to remain in my treasures for the past 67 years is a miracle. I now keep it in a sealed plastic baggy for protection.

My new husband and I had recently turned 21, the age of “maturity” where we lived in Jackson, Mississippi. We went to the appropriate office to register to vote.

In order to avoid paying the $5 poll tax, we were told to correctly answer a question about the U.S. government. My question was “Who was the first president of the United States?” There was a young black man standing at the counter next to us and his question was “What were the Federalist Papers and what did Patrick Henry have to do with them?” I don’t remember if he answered or not, but I never forgot his question.

What more needs to be said about that day? The implication was clear enough and something for reflection on this weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday.

A hui hou!

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