Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate but Equal 1896
Homer Plessy (1863–1925), Henry Billings Brown (1836–1913),
John Marshall Harlan (1833–1911)
The historic 1896 United States Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson established the validity of racial segregation under the “separate but equal” theory. The lawsuit came from an event in which Homer Plessy, an African American railway passenger, refused to seat in a car reserved for Black people in 1892.
The Supreme Court rejected Plessy’s claim that his constitutional rights had been infringed, ruling that a legislation that “implies only a juridical distinction” between white and black persons is not unconstitutional. As a result, Jim Crow laws and segregated public accommodations for people of different races were popular.
Plessy v. Ferguson: Background and Context
Following the removal of federal soldiers from the South as a result of the 1877 Compromise, Democrats secured control of state legislatures across the area, essentially ending Reconstruction.