Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Definition - What does Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) mean?

The case of Plessy v. Ferguson is an early Supreme Court case, which decided that the "separate but equal" way of segregating black and white people in public places was in fact legal because it allowed for both parties to have access to the same services.

The case was set up as a test case to make a precedent. The parties knew in advance that the end result of Plessey's actions was that he would be arrested. This allowed the case to be heard.

Justipedia explains Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

The case revolved around Plessey, a man who was one-eighth African American, buying a train ticket and sitting in a white-only carriage.

The Supreme Court held the position that having separate rail cars was legal, and pointed to other states making similar laws decades before the Plessey v. Ferguson case.

Ferguson was the judge in the first case, and Plessey was the defendant in the first case and the plaintiff in the second, as the case rose to the Supreme Court.

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