Separate Is Not Equal - Brown v. Board of Education

Smithsonian National Museum of American History Behring Center



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Segregated America
  • Promise of Freedom
  • White Only
  • Separate but Equal
  • The Supreme Court
The Battleground
Legal Campaign
Five Communities Change a Nation
The Decision
Legacy
Plessy v. Ferguson

Plessy v. Ferguson

In 1890 a new Louisiana law required railroads to provide “equal but separate accommodations for the white, and colored, races.” Outraged, the black community in New Orleans decided to test the rule.

On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy agreed to be arrested for refusing to move from a seat reserved for whites. Judge John H. Ferguson upheld the law, and the case of Plessy v. Ferguson slowly moved up to the Supreme Court. On May 18, 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court, with only one dissenting vote, ruled that segregation in America was constitutional.
(Courtesy of National Archives, Washington, D.C.)

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