Plessey vs. Ferguson

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Separate but Equal? On July 19, 1890, the Louisiana General Assembly passed an act that provided equal but separate accommodations for each race for the comfort of all the passengers. This law is a clear violation of the 14th amendment so the American Citizens Equal Rights Association of Louisiana Against Class Legislation denounced the law. This group of African Americans raised money and challenged the constitutionality of the law. It was not until Adolph Plessy entered a train and sat in a whites only car that a case entered the Supreme Court. Judge Ferguson, who presided over the Criminal District Court of New Orleans found the law constitutional, as did the Louisiana Supreme Court. The case was heard in the Supreme Court in 1896. During this period many new Jim Crow laws had been passed throughout the South. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Tennessee passed laws requiring railroads to separate the races. Mississippi and South Carolina already denied the vote to Blacks and many other states were preparing to take the same steps. The 14th amendment plays a viable role in both Plessy vs. Ferguson and Brown vs. Board of Education. While the 13th abolished slavery and the 15th established the right to suffrage, it was the 14th, which supposedly guaranteed civil rights. The requirements of section 1 of the 14th Amendment left much of the jurisdictional issues (intentionally) vague as to the limits of federal and state laws. (So for example, it was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that housing was brought under the jurisdiction of this amendment.) This amendment strengthened the power of the radical Republicans in the South. It achieved this by protecting the rights of African Americans they hoped to keep them loyal to the Republican Party and that they would support the newly formed federal government. Ironically the amendment can be interpreted in clashing
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