Louisiana Board Votes to Posthumously Pardon Homer Plessy, Namesake of Supreme Court’s Landmark ‘Separate but Equal’ Ruling

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, La., on June 7, 2011. Homer Plessy, the namesake of the US Supreme Court’s 1896 “separate but equal” ruling, is being considered for a posthumous pardon. AP Photo/Bill Haber, File

A Louisiana board on Friday voted unanimously to pardon Homer Plessy, whose landmark 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson led to the US Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” doctrine that affirmed state-sanctioned segregation laws, according to The Washington Post.

The Louisiana Board of Pardons approved the pardon for Plessy, a mixed-race Creole man from New Orleans who in 1892 bought a first-class ticket on a train headed to Covington, Louisiana, and sat in a “whites-only” rail car. He was asked to leave the car, and after refusing to give up his seat, was removed from the train and charged with violating the Louisiana Separate Car Act of 1890.

Plessy, a 30-year-old shoemaker at the time of his arrest, pled guilty and was fined $25; he died in 1925 at age 62 with the conviction still on his record.

Nearly 130 years later, Plessy’s record is one step closer to being cleared.

“There is no doubt that he was guilty of that act on that date,” Jason Williams, the Orleans Parish district attorney, told the board during the Friday hearing. “But there is equally no doubt that such an act should have never been a crime in this country.”

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SOURCE: Business Insider, John L. Dorman