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Louisiana governor to pardon Plessy of 'separate but equal' ruling

Pless v. Ferguson Pardon
Posted at 7:51 AM, Jan 05, 2022

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he will issue a posthumous pardon for Homer Plessy, who was arrested in 1892 for challenging a ban on Black people sitting in "whites-only" train cars, on Wednesday.

Plessy, a Creole man, was arrested for violating the "Separate Car Act." His case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled his conviction constitutional four years later in the landmark case "Plessy v. Ferguson."

In issuing the court's 7-1 majority opinion, Justice Henry Billings Brown wrote that segregation was legal if "separate but equal" accommodations were provided for people of color. The opinion allowed Jim Crow laws to stand for half a century.

The statute was lifted in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. the Board of Education that racial segregation was inherently unequal.

Edwards scheduled the ceremony close to the 125th anniversary of Plessy's guilty plea. Plessy pleaded guilty to violating the Separate Car Act on Jan. 11, 1897. The pardoning ceremony will take place near where Plessy was arrested.

The trial judge's great-great-granddaughter says she hopes the pardon will "give some relief to generations who have suffered under discriminatory laws."

"Hopefully, this will give some relief to generations who have suffered under discriminatory laws," Phoebe Ferguson told The Associated Press.

The pardoning ceremony comes after the state Board of Pardon voted unanimously in November to clear Plessy's record.