At the end of the 19th century, Homer Plessy was arrested for trying to ride in an all-white train car in New Orleans, thus ignoring Louisiana’s segregation law. Plessy was a Black Creole. After a local judge found him guilty, he appealed the conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in the Plessy vs. Ferguson decision, which ratified the “separate but equal” doctrine.
That ruling okayed racial segregation statutes that reduced millions of Black Americans to second-class status, since separate was never equal in a racist society. Separate but equal remained in place until it was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1954, a decision that was boldly resisted by the South for years.
Homer Plessy will be posthumously pardoned as a result of a sustained effort by his descendant Keith Plessy, and the descendant of the judge who found him guilty, John Howard…
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