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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Terry Young Took Us To Supper - And I Discovered Plessy Versus Ferguson

Terry and Lulu in front of The Joint.

Lulu's buddy - Terry Young lives in the French Quarter for the last 30 years. He is a school librarian in New Orleans. He is always offering us his living room floor to crash during Mardi Gras - and this trip he insisted on taking us out to supper at a local BBQ joint.

Less than one mile east of the French Quarter is "The Joint." It only has about 10 tables but has some of the finest brisket and ribs we have ever had. The area of New Orleans was never under water - most people do not know that the French Quarter survived Katrina pretty well intact.

Terry and Lulu sit on several national library committees together.

On the way back to our hotel - I caught a sign that said "Plessy......" About a block later I asked Terry to stop his Accord. He circled around and there is was "Plessy Versus Ferguson." It was one of the most famous civil rights cases before the Supreme Court. Unfortunately - the court ruled the wrong way - and black civil rights were put on hold another 60 years.

Homer Plessy was an Octoroon. This is a person 7/8th white and 1/8th black. He looked white - but in New Orleans you were considered 100% black. Louisiana has just passed the Railroad Car Act of 1892. The law stated that blacks must ride in separate train cars from whites. The train was going from New Orleans to Covington. Plessy hopped on the white train car. He was arrested and charged with "riding in a white train car while black." They put him off the train in this area of New Orleans and arrested him. 

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court. Ferguson was the judge that found Plessy guilty - so the case was Plessy versus Gurgeson in front of the final arbiters in Washington DC.

The Supreme Court ruled "separate but equal is equal." From this - the cities of the South - segregated schools - restaurants - bathrooms - trains - hotels - you name it. This went one for 60 more years until the 1954 case of Brown Versus Broad of Education. At that time the Supreme Court ruled - "separate is NOT equal." They said the country must integrate with all deliberate speed. This piloted the civili rights movement - along with Martin Luther King.

There I was - standing on the spot where Home Plessy like Rosa Parks many years later challenged the law saying blacks had to be beholding to whites. You gotta love New Orleans.

Lulu had ribs - Terry and I had beef brisket - at The Joint.

In this spot Homer Plessy was arrested for riding in the "white only train car."

The Supreme Court ruled against Homer Plessy - and for 60 years the South kept blacks "separate but equal." Even in 2013 - blacks schools down South are still not funded as well as white school. 

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