Join us for a new series of stories from the Center for Local History highlighting members of our community who made a difference in ways that helped shape our history and created positive change.
Their voices were not always loud, but what they said or did had a significant impact on our community.
In 1965, Hall’s Hill/High View Park resident Portia Haskins filed suit against the Virginia Board of Elections and the Arlington County general registrar after learning she was required to re-register in order to vote in the upcoming election, despite having already paid her poll taxes in February and having registered for federal elections the previous year.
On April 1, 1966, in the case Portia A. Haskins v. Levin Nock Davis et al., a Federal District Court ruled in Haskins’ favor arguing that “[t]he provisions of Virginia’s dual voter registration…which treat persons who are registered only for federal elections differently from persons registered for all elections violate the equal protection laws of the 14th Amendment.” This landmark decision eliminated what was essentially a selectively administered and enforced poll tax imposed chiefly on African-American voters in Arlington County.
Photograph of Portia Haskins. Date of Photo Unknown.
Recent events have shown that progress is a process and part of an ongoing struggle. Accomplishments both great and small are seldom an endpoint but are a constant series of steps forward which cannot be taken for granted.
Portia Haskins has recently completed and published a book on the history of Mt. Salvation Baptist Church.
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