Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was the seminal post-Reconstruction Supreme Court decision that judicially validated state sponsored segregation in public facilities by its creation and endorsement of the “separate but equal” doctrine as satisfying the Constitutional requirements provided in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The decision was 7-1 with one abstention by Justice John Marshall Harlen, whose lone dissent earned him the nickname, “the Great Dissenter.” It wasn’t until Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that this “separate but equal” doctrine was abolished.
In 1890, Louisiana passed a law prohibiting people of different races from traveling together on trains. This law was one of many forms of segregation, formal and informal, that came to be known as Jim Crow (named after a minstrel song). A group of African American educators, lawyers, journalists, and civic leaders in New Orleans decided to test the law in court. At the time, New Orleans had the country's largest African American population. "This act," black leaders declared, "will be a license to the evilly disposed...to insult, humiliate and maltreat...those who have a dark skin."
This book of twelve original essays will bring together two themes of American culture: law and race. The essays fall into four groups: cases that are essential to the history of race in America; cases that illustrate the treatment of race in American history; cases of great fame that became the trials of the century of their time; and cases that made important law. Some of the cases discussed include Amistad, Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Scottsboro, Korematsu v. US, Brown v. Board, Loving v. Virginia, Regents v. Bakke, and OJ Simpson. All illustrate how race often determined the outcome of trials, and how trials that confront issues of racism provide a unique lens on American cultural history.
'Acclaimed by researchers, students, and general readers, this informative, lively, and easy-to-use volume fills the public need for information about key recent and historical cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now significantly updated, this new edition includes all the new major cases-over twenty five in total-handed down by the Court since the first edition was published in 2000. '