The date was June 7, 1892, and Homer Adolph Plessy decided to buy a railroad ticket that would change civil rights and the lives of both African-Americans and Caucasian people. The ticket was for a train passage from New Orleans to Covington, Louisiana. While aboard this train Plessy sat in the “Whites Only” section of the railcar and refused to relocate. Upon his arrest, his court date was set and history was beginning to be made.
John Howard Ferguson was the prosecutor appointed to handle this case. Ferguson argued that Plessy was granted equality but not the liberty of doing as he pleased. The United States Supreme Court agreed and mandated the infamous “separate but equal” doctrine. This law remained in place until Brown V. Board of Education, 58 years later.
Today, Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson have taken a historic moment and created an education organization bearing their family names, The Plessy & Ferguson Foundation. Keith Plessy was born in New Orleans and Homer Plessy was his great-grandfather’s first cousin. He knew of the family relation all his life because of the unique last name. Phoebe Ferguson is heavily involved in the New Orleans school system and a film producer. The foundation’s mission is to create new and innovative ways to teach the history of Civil Rights through understanding this historic case and its effect on the American conscience.
Yesterday was 119th Anniversary of the bold movement made by Homer Adolph Plessy. As we continue to be pioneers in our community, let’s remember the actions of those who came before us. Plessy v. Ferguson has now become Plessy & Ferguson.
Check out the website at www.plessyandferguson.org