- NAME: Homer Plessy
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist
- BIRTH DATE: March 17, 1862
- DEATH DATE: March 01, 1925
- Did You Know?: Plessy, who was 1/8 black, intentionally notified a railroad conductor of his African-American lineage so that he would be ejected from the train and be able to protest.
- PLACE OF BIRTH: New Orleans, Louisiana
- PLACE OF DEATH: New Orleans, Louisiana
- Full Name: Homer Adolph Plessy
- AKA: Homer A. Plessy
- AKA: Homer Plessy
Best Known For
Homer Plessy is best known as the plaintiff in Plessy v. Ferguson, a landmark court case challenging southern-based segregation.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Born on March 17, 1862, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Homer Plessy was a shoemaker whose one act of civil disobedience helped inspire future generations of the Civil Rights Movement. He challenged Louisiana segregation legislation by refusing to move from a "whites only" railcar in 1896. His case was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court and arguments from it were used decades later in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. Plessy passed away March 1, 1925, at age 61.
Homer Adolph Plessy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 17, 1862, to a family of mixed racial heritage. His family could pass for white and were considered "free people of color." Plessy thought of himself as 1/8 black since his great-grandmother was from Africa. As a young man, Plessy worked as a shoemaker, and at age 25, he married Lousie Bordnave. Taking up social activism, in 1887, Plessy served as vice president of the Justice, Protective, Educational and Social Club to reform New Orleans' public education system.
Plessy's activism was heightened in response to Louisiana passing a law segregating public facilities in 1890, including the Separate Car Act. The 30-year-old Plessy challenged this legislation on behalf of a group called the Citizens' Committee. In 1892, he purchased a first-class ticket on the East Louisiana Railroad and sat in the "whites only" section. He then stated to the conductor he was 1/8 black and refused to remove himself from the car. Ejected from the train, Plessy was jailed overnight and released on a $500 bond.
Protesting the violation of his 13th and 14th amendment rights, the history-maker's court case became known as Plessy v. Ferguson. With Judge John Howard Ferguson presiding, Plessy was found guilty, but the case went on to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896. During the proceedings, Justice William Billings Brown defined the separate but equal clause; it supported segregation and the Jim Crow laws as long as each race's public facilities were equal.
Afterward, Plessy returned to everyday family life, working as an insurance salesman. He passed away on March 1, 1925, at age 61. Despite the legal defeat, this activist had a major impact on the Civil Rights Movement. His actions helped inspire the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP incorporated Plessy's 14th Amendment arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1954 landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which overruled the separate-but-equal doctrine.
Plessy's legacy has also been recognized in the establishment of "Homer A. Plessy Day" in New Orleans, with a park named in his honor as well. Perhaps more remarkably, 50 years after what transpired, relatives of Plessy and Ferguson united to create a foundation that provides civil rights education, preservation and outreach.
© 2014 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
profile name: Homer Plessy profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Pisceans 559 people in this group
African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
Famous Black Activists 160 people in this group
"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Famous Civil Rights Activists 186 people in this group