Louisiana officials vote to pardon de-segregationist Homer Plessy

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Louisiana officials vote to pardon de-segregationist Homer Plessy

Louisiana officials have pardoned pioneering de-segregationist Homer Plessy.

Plessy, then a 30-year-old Creole shoemaker, sat in a “whites-only” train car in 1892 to protest discrimination – a move that ultimately backfired and led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1896 “separate but equal” ruling affirming state segregation laws.

The state Board of Pardons’ unanimous decision Friday to clear Plessy’s record now goes to Gov. John Bel Edwards, who is expected to sign off, according to the Associated Press.

Plessy v. Ferguson led to a justification of racial segregation for another 50 years, allowing for whites-only spaces in trains, buses and other public accommodations.

The top court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling, related to Topeka, Kansas, eclipsed that case. Brown led to the widespread desegregation of schools and the elimination of Jim Crow laws.

 Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of the principals in the Plessy V. Ferguson court case, pose for a photograph in front of a historical marker in New Orleans, on Tuesday, June 7, 2011.
Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of the principals in the Plessy v. Ferguson court case, pose for a photograph in front of a historical marker in New Orleans, on June 7, 2011.
AP Photo/Bill Haber, File
A marker on the burial site for Homer Plessy at St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery in New Orleans.
Homer Plessy died in 1925 with a conviction on his record.
AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File

As part of an effort by civil-rights activists, Plessy, described in the Supreme Court opinion as of “one-eighth African blood,” refused to sit in the “colored car.”

The Supreme Court ruled in the Plessy case that state racial segregation laws didn’t violate the Constitution as long as facilities for the races were of equal quality.

Plessy pleaded guilty to violating the Separate Car Act a year later and was fined $25. He died in 1925 with the conviction still on his record.

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