This Day in Black History: May 18, 1896

U.S. Supreme Court upheld “separate but equal” doctrine in Plessy v. Ferguson case.

Posted: 05/18/2012 07:00 AM EDT

Homer Plessy, above. (Photo: Public Domain)

The United States Supreme ruled in the Plessy v. Ferguson court case to uphold a Louisiana state law allowing “separate but equal” facilities for white and Black railroad passengers. The historic lawsuit was brought by Homer Plessy, a man of mixed racial descent, who was arrested on June 7, 1892, for sitting in a whites-only section of a railcar and charged with violating the state law. Although Criminal District Court Judge John H. Ferguson ruled against him, Plessy eventually won the right for the case to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

It wasn’t until another landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, and several civil rights acts passed by Congress in the 1950s and ’60s, that state-sanctioned segregation laws stemming from the Reconstruction Era, also known as Jim Crow laws, were dismantled in the United States.



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