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A Landmark Case

August 9, 2022

At age 24 Homer Plessy (1863-1925) became vice president of the Justice, Protective, Educational, and Social Club in New Orleans. In June of 1892 Plessy bought a first-class ticket and boarded a "Whites Only" car of the East Louisiana Railroad in New Orleans, Louisiana. This was an intentional act to challenge segregation laws. Plessy knew he would be removed from the train and likely arrested.

After Plessy took a seat in the whites-only railway car, he was asked to vacate it, and sit instead in the blacks-only car. Plessy refused and was arrested immediately. In the district court of the Parish of New Orleans, Judge John Ferguson ruled that the state’s Separate Car Act was constitutional. Appeals to the State Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court were both ruled against Plessy.

Plessy v Ferguson was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that racial segregation laws did not violate the U.S. Constitution as long as the facilities for each race were equal in quality, a doctrine that came to be known as "separate but equal.”

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