The more things change, the more it stays the same

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, January 24, 2019

By Dawn Burleigh


As I was selecting the front-page picture for the editorial page, two things caught my eye for selecting the one featured today.

First, the notice across the top concerning how much time was left to pay one’s Poll Tax. Personally, I am grateful to see such a ‘tax’ gone. There was nothing fair about it.

Begun in the 1890s as a legal way to keep African Americans from voting in southern states, poll taxes were essentially a voting fee. Eligible voters were required to pay their poll tax before they could cast a ballot. A “grandfather clause” excused some poor whites from payment if they had an ancestor who voted before the Civil War, but there were no exemptions for African Americans, according to

In 1964, the 24th amendment prohibited the use of poll taxes for federal elections. Five states enforced payment of poll taxes for state elections until 1966, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional.

It is one change during the Civil Rights Movement that benefited all of us.

The abolishment of poll taxes was the result of people who fought for what was right.

The second thing, which jumped off the page at me, is the headline “Lack of Church Attendance is Rotary Topic.”

The article is from 79 years ago and yet it could easily be a headline from today.

A study in 2004 showed only 17.7 percent of the population attended a Christian church on any given weekend. That was 14 years ago.

The number one reason given for not attending church, according to a Pew Research Poll, was “I practice my faith in other ways.”

The second and fourth reason could almost go hand in hand. The second reason is “I haven’t found a church/house of worship I like” while the fourth reason is “I don’t feel welcomed.”

How can one find a church they like if they don’t feel welcomed? It is hard to return to a place where one is not comfortable.

This is just as true for government meetings. A citizen attending a meeting for the first time is already ‘on edge’ because they are unfamiliar with the process. You see someone you don’t normally see at a meeting, say hello, or introduce yourself. Help encourage them to become involved by attending the meetings.

One should do the same for a new face at church.

For some reason it is easier to invite someone to a city council meeting than to invite them to church.

While being grateful for the abolishment of the Poll Tax, invite someone to a council meeting this week and invite two to your place of worship.

And let us hope the third headline on the page: “Orange Snowfall Measures 4 Inches” does not repeat itself as the sub headline does read, “Storm Worst since Famous 1895 Blizzard.” We have had enough historical record breaker weather patterns the last couple of years.

Dawn Burleigh is editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at