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*On this date in 1892, a 30-year-old Black shoemaker named Homer Plessy was jailed for sitting in the "White" car of the East Louisiana Railroad.
Plessy was only one-eighths black and seven-eighths white, but under Louisiana law, he was categorized as black and therefore required to sit in the "Colored" car. Plessy went to court and argued, in Homer Adolph Plessy v. The State of Louisiana, that the Separate Car Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. In 1896, the United States Supreme Court heard Plessy's case and found him guilty again.
The Plessy decision set a precedent that "separate" facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional as long as they were "equal." The "separate but equal" doctrine was quickly extended to cover many areas of public life, such as restaurants, theaters, restrooms, and public schools.
On January 5, 2022, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday granted a posthumous pardon to Homer Plessy, the man at the center of the landmark civil rights Supreme Court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson. Plessy descendants joined the governor at a ceremony in New Orleans, where he officially signed the pardon. The ceremony, which city leaders and relatives attended, was near the original location where Homer Plessy was arrested nearly 130 years ago.
The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York