Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday formally pardoned Homer Plessy, the long-dead civil rights pioneer whose stand against racial segregation led to an infamous U.S. Supreme Court case.
Edwards issued the pardon on the grounds of what is now the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, where Plessy bought a ticket for a train to Covington as part of an 1892 challenge to Louisiana’s racist Jim Crow laws. Plessy, a Creole man of African descent, was ultimately convicted of sitting in a Whites-only section of the train….
The Louisiana Pardon Board recommended the posthumous pardon in November, under a law initially designed to offer clemency to veterans of the 20th-century civil rights movement. Plessy is the first person so pardoned.
Before he signed the pardon document, Edwards quoted from the dissent of Associate Justice John Marshall Harlan, the sole vote against the majority in Plessy v. Ferguson.
“The pernicious effects of Plessy [v. Ferguson] linger still in terms of race relations, equality and justice,” Edwards said. “We are not where we should be, and quite frankly we’re not where we would have been, had at least four other justices had the same fidelity to the Constitution.”