Plessy v. Ferguson

163 U.S. 537 Supreme Court 1896
social equality cannot exist between the white and black races in this countrysolongasthelawcanclaim theseparation of citizens on the basis of raceisconsistent withequalityThe thin disguise of "equal" accommodationswill not mislead anyone,asit isconceived in hostility to, and enacted for the purpose of humiliating, citizens ofcolor

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.

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