Homer Plessy, a free man who was multiracial, agreed to participate in a test case to challenge a Louisiana law known as the Separate Car Act. The law required that railroads provided separate cars and facilities for Whites and Blacks. Plessy was told to vacate the Whites-only car; he refused and was arrested.
The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that mandatory racial segregation was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. So long as legal equality prevailed, social racial inequality was not a concern for the courts under the “separate but equal” principle. This remained the established precedent until it was overturned in 1954 in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
social equality cannot exist between the
white and black races in this country
so long as the law
can claim the separation of citizens
on the basis of race is consistent
The thin disguise of "equal" accommodations
will not mislead anyone,
as it is
conceived in hostility to,
and enacted for the purpose of humiliating,
citizens of color
“This question is not met by the suggestion that social equality cannot exist between the white and black races in this country. That argument, if it can be properly regarded as one, is scarcely worthy of consideration...”