Louisiana board votes to posthumously pardon Homer Plessy, namesake of the landmark 'separate but equal' ruling

Louisiana's board approved Homer Plessy's pardon. Plessy v. Ferguson was the case that led to the Supreme Court’s "separate, but equal" doctrine.
Plessy's arrest in 1892 is almost 130 years old.

Now, the measure is headed to Gov. John Bel Edwards has final approval of the board's decision.

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According to The Washington Post, Friday's Louisiana board unanimously voted to pardon Homer Plessy. His landmark 1896 case Plessy V. Ferguson led to the "separate, but equal" doctrine by The US Supreme Court that confirmed state-sanctioned laws regarding segregation.

The Louisiana Board of Pardons approved Plessy's pardon. He was a mixed-race Creole from New Orleans who purchased a first-class train ticket to Covington in 1892 and sat in an "only for whites" rail car. After refusing to take his seat on the train, he was asked to get out of the car and was charged with violating the Louisiana Separate Car Act of1890.

Plessy was a shoemaker aged 30 at the time of his arrest. He pleaded guilty and was given a $25 fine. He died in 1925 at the age of 62, with the conviction still on him.

Plessy's record, nearly 130 years later is just one step closer to being cleared.

Jason Williams, Orleans Parish's district attorney, stated that there was no doubt that he was guilty on Friday of the same act. "But it is also clear that such an act shouldn't have been a crime here in the United States."

Now, the measure will be sent to Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has final approval of the board's decision.

Edwards spokesperson said Friday that Edwards was on his way but would "receive and review the recommendations of the Board upon his return."

The Jim Crow laws were upheld by the Plessy decision, which allowed segregation in schools, theaters, public transport, and other public spaces between Black and White Americans.

Legalized segregation was established as a way to live for many generations.

This was a result of the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown, v. Board of Education of Topeka, which ended such mandatory discrimination. It led to desegregation of schools, and the demise of Jim Crow.

New Orleans is reflecting on its turbulent desegregation history, which led to Ruby Bridges being born in 1960, when she was just six years old, and becoming the first Black child to de-segregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary school.

Keith Plessy was a descendant of Homer Plessy and attended the hearing. He recalled the moment he met Rosa Parks in 1955, when she refused to take a seat on a Montgomery bus for whites only.

Keith Plessy stated during the hearing, "She said to my, 'Get up, boy, your name's Plessy -- there's work to do. "I will admit that I did not understand what she meant, but I am certain now that she was referring to the work that we are doing today."