PLESSY V. FERGUSON Made by Emme, Nate, Megan

Side one - Homer Plessy

In 1890, Louisiana had a law that required that blacks and whites have separate train cars when riding the rail. Plessy was only ⅛ African-American, but was told to move to the train car designated for blacks. Because Plessy refused to move, on the account he was mostly white, and he was arrested for violating the Separate Car Act. In court, Plessy’s argument was that the Separate Car Act contravened the Fourteenth Amendment, which includes a promise of equal protection.

A cartoon to represent the Jim Crow Laws pertaining to the Separate Car Act

Side Two - John Ferguson & the CourtS

John Ferguson was the judge in Plessy’s New Orleans Court and, upon hearing Plessy’s argument, defended the state law. The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the equal protection of both races only extended to political and civil rights, for example serving on a jury or voting. They argued that “equal protection” did not extend to social matters. The Court also stated that blacks and whites were given equal rights and punishments under the law. Therefore, it was not their fault that blacks were socially inferior and that they “put that construction upon themselves”.

Convoluted White Person Thinking, that Blacks are separate from Whites but still treated just fine

Supreme Court Desicion

"By a 7-1 vote, the Court said that a state law that “implies merely a legal distinction” between the two races did not conflict with the 13th Amendment forbidding involuntary servitude, nor did it tend to reestablish such a condition." The majority of The Supreme Court upheld state-imposed racial segregation. Based on their decision on the "separate but equal", the separate facilities blacks and whites, were satisfied with the 14th Amendment as long as they were equal.


The Court’s decision in Plessy vs. Ferguson led to a spread and increase of restrictive legislation based on race. It also foreclosed many cases concerning segregated institutions in the South. Because the Court implied that blacks were socially inferior, a sort of racial classes were formed, although the Court said they didn't know of or tolerate classes. The increased segregation and the idea of “separate but equal” remained intact until Brown vs. Board of Education.

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