Plessy v. Ferguson was the landmark United States Supreme Court case upholding the
Constitutionality of racial segregation in public accommodations, under the doctrine
of "Separate but equal". In this paper I will explain how the era of Jim Crow
started and how they left a lasting effect on African Americans.
In 1890, Louisiana passed a law called the "Separate Car Act", which made it illegal
for blacks to ride in the same coach as whites. The law also provided for the equal
but separate accommodations for the white, and colored races. This was a total
contradiction to the fourteenth amendment which was created to protect the rights of
former slaves. A group called The Citizens' Committee was formed in New Orleans to
test the Constitutionality of the new law. The group chose a man named Homer Plessy
because he was black but looked white. On June 7, 1892, Plessy purchased a train ticket
from New Orleans to Covington, Louisiana and sat in the railroad car designated for
whites only. The result of this test was that Plessy was arrested and charged with
violating The Separate Car Act.
The other name is the case belonged to John Howard Ferguson who was the judge
presiding over Plessy's criminal case in the district court. Ferguson found Plessy guilty
and declared the Separate Car Act Constitutional. The Plessy case then became a major
road block to equal rights for black people in America. The Plessy case was looked upon
as a victory for those who oppose civil rights. I would like to say that this was the official
date of the birth of Jim Crow.
The southern states quickly passed laws that restricted the equal access for blacks on and
in trains, hotels and all public places, "Whites Only" and "Colored" signs started to
appear all over the south....