Louisiana board votes to pardon Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2021-11-13 14:41Z by Steven

Louisiana board votes to pardon Homer Plessy of Plessy v. Ferguson

The Washington Post

Gillian Brockell

Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of the principals in the Plessy v. Ferguson court case, in front of a historical marker in New Orleans on June 7, 2011. (Bill Haber/AP)

In the annals of the Supreme Court, the Plessy v. Ferguson case has little competition for the title of Worst Decision in History. Now, 125 years after the shameful decision that codified the Jim Crow-era “separate but equal” fiction, the namesake of that famous case, Homer Plessy, may be pardoned. The Louisiana Board of Pardons unanimously approved a pardon Friday, according to the Associated Press, sending it to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for final approval.

Edwards’s press office said the governor was traveling “but looks forward to receiving and reviewing the recommendation of the Board upon his return.”

When Keith Plessy, a descendant of Homer Plessy, heard the news, he felt like his feet “weren’t touching the ground.” He and his friend Phoebe Ferguson, a descendant of the judge in the case, hopped in the car and were driving across New Orleans to the house of another friend — Homer Plessy biographer Keith Weldon Medley — to share the news when they spoke with The Washington Post

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Plessy and Ferguson unveil plaque today marking their ancestors’ actions

Posted in Articles, History, Law, Louisiana, Media Archive on 2011-05-31 02:25Z by Steven

Plessy and Ferguson unveil plaque today marking their ancestors’ actions

New Orleans Times-Picayune

Katy Reckdahl

Today, Plessy versus Ferguson becomes Plessy and Ferguson, when descendants of opposing parties in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court segregation case stand together to unveil a plaque at the former site of the Press Street Railroad Yards.

Standing behind Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson will be a large group of students, scholars, officials and activists who worked for years to honor the site where in 1892, Tremé shoemaker Homer Plessy, a light-skinned black man, was arrested for sitting in a railway car reserved for white people.

People often think that his ancestor held some responsibility for the legalized segregation known as “separate but equal, ” said Keith Plessy, 52, a longtime New Orleans hotel bellman whose great-grandfather was Homer Plessy’s first cousin. In actuality, Homer Plessy boarded that train as part of a carefully orchestrated effort to create a civil-rights test case, to fight the proliferation of segregationist laws in the South…

…Plessy, born in 1863 on St. Patrick’s Day, grew up at a time when black people in New Orleans could marry whomever they chose, sit in any streetcar seat, and attend integrated schools, Medley said. But as an adult, those gains from the Reconstruction era eroded.
On any other day in 1892, Plessy could have ridden in the car restricted to white passengers without notice. According to the parlance of the time, he was classified “7/8 white.”
In order to pose a clear test to the state’s 1890 separate-car law, the Citizens’ Committee in advance notified the railroad—which had opposed the law because it required adding more cars to its trains.
On June 7, 1892, Plessy bought a first-class ticket for the commuter train that ran to Covington, sat down in the car for white riders only and the conductor asked whether he was a colored man, Medley said. The committee also hired a private detective with arrest powers to take Plessy off the train at Press and Royal streets, to ensure that he was charged with violating the state’s separate-car law.
Everything the committee plotted went as planned—except for the final court decision, in 1896. By then the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court had gained a more segregationist tilt, and the committee knew it would likely lose. But it chose to press the cause anyway, Medley said. “It was a matter of honor for them, that they fight this to the very end.”…

…”You don’t know American history until you know Louisiana history, ” Plessy said…

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