R&I NV — On Jan. 11, 1897, Homer Plessy pleaded guilty in a New Orleans district court for sitting in a whites-only train car, eight months after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Louisiana’s Separate Car Act and a doctrine of “separate but equal” legislation that made way for segregation laws across the U.S.
Now, nearly 125 years later, Plessy’s conviction has been wiped from his record. On Jan. 5, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed a posthumous pardon for Plessy during a ceremony in New Orleans.
“The stroke of my pen on this pardon, while momentous, it doesn’t erase generations of pain and discrimination. It doesn’t …fix all of our present challenges. We can all acknowledge we have a long ways to go. But this pardon is a step in the right direction,” Edwards said. “I am beyond grateful that I have a small part to play in ensuring that Homer Plessy’s legacy will be entirely defined by the rightness of his cause and undefiled by an unjust criminal conviction.”
The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office submitted the application for a pardon on Nov. 5 in what’s believed to be the first use of a 2006 state law, which allows people—as well as the descendants of people—convicted of breaking state or local laws designed to “maintain or enforce racial separation or discrimination” to apply for pardons. The application comes out of the office’s civil rights division, which has been tasked with looking for wrongful convictions.
Article URL : https://time.com/6128436/homer-plessy-ferguson-pardon/