Plessy v. Ferguson

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses (particularly railroads), under the doctrine of “separate but equal”.


Comments by Steven F. Riley:

The Plessy decision is significant in that it not only gave constitutional legitimacy to Jim Crow segregation, it also effectively codifed the so-called “one-drop rule” which designated anyone with any known quantity of African ancestry—no mater how small—as black.   Homer Plessy, (of one-eighth African ancestry) was by all appearances  “visibly white” and in fact had to announce his appearance on the railroad car in which he was traveling.