Plessy v. Ferguson Final Ruling
Plessy v. Ferguson is a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation even in public accommodations under the doctrine of "separate but equal."
The decision was handed down by a vote of 7 to 1, with the majority opinion written by Justice Henry Billings Brown and the dissent written by Justice John Marshall Harlan. Justice David Josiah Brewer did not participate in the decision. "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.
After the high court ruled, the New Orleans Comité des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens) that had brought the suit and that had arranged for Homer Plessy's arrest in order to challenge Louisiana's segregation law, replied, “We, as freemen, still believe that we were right and our cause is sacred.”
On May 18, 1896, the Supreme Court ruled separate-but-equal facilities constitutional on intrastate railroads. For some fifty years, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation. Across the country, laws mandated separate accommodations on buses and trains, and in hotels, theaters, and schools.
I have traveled in this free country for twenty hours without anything to eat; not because I had no money to pay for it, but because I was colored. Other passengers of a lighter hue had breakfast, dinner and supper. In traveling we are thrown in "jim crow" cars, denied the privilege of buying a berth in the sleeping coach.
This foe of my race stands at the school house door and separates the children, by reason of 'color,' and denies to those who have a visible admixture of African blood in them the blessings of a graded school and equal privileges... We call upon all friends of 'Equal Rights' to assist in this struggle to secure the blessings of untrammeled liberty for ourselves and posterity. ”— B. W. Arnett