Homer Plessy


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    Join date : 2010-11-09

    Homer Plessy             Empty Homer Plessy

    Post by msistarted0 on Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:53 pm

    Homer Adolph Plessy (March 17, 1862 – March 1, 1925) was the American plaintiff in the United States Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Arrested, tried and convicted of a violation of one of Louisiana's racial segregation laws, he appealed through Louisiana state courts to the U.S. Supreme Court, and lost. The resulting "separate-but-equal" decision against him had wide consequences for civil rights in the United States. The decision legalized state-mandated segregation anywhere in the United States, as long as the facilities provided for both blacks and whites were putatively "equal".

    Plessy, born in 1862 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.[1] As an adult, Homer Plessy found that those gains from the period of Federal occupation during the Civil War and the Reconstruction era had been abolished after troops were withdrawn in 1877..[2]

    On any other day in 1892, Plessy with his pale skin color could have ridden in the car restricted to white passengers without notice. He was classified "7/8 white" or octoroon according to the language of the time. Although it is often interpreted as Plessy had only one great grandmother of African descent, both of his parents are identified as free persons of color on his birth certificate. The racial categorization is based on appearance rather than genealogy.[3]

    Hoping to strike down segregation laws, the Citizens' Committee of New Orleans (Comité des Citoyens) recruited Plessy to violate Louisiana's 1890 separate-car law. To pose a clear test, the Citizens' Committee gave advance notice of Plessy's intent to the railroad, which had opposed the law because it required adding more cars to its trains[4]

    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.[5]

    Everything the committee plotted went as planned except for result, which was the Supreme 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."[6]

    After the Supreme Court ruling, Plessy faded back into relative anonymity. He fathered children, continued to participate in the religious and social life of his community, and later sold and collected insurance for the People’s Life Insurance Company. Plessy died in 1925 at the age of sixty-one, with his obituary reading, "Plessy — on Sunday, March 1, 1925, at 5:10 a.m. beloved husband of Louise Bordenave." He was buried in the Debergue-Blanco family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

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