Homer Plessy, a businessman and civil rights activist, was born in
in 1863, during the middle of the Civil War. He had one-eighth Black ancestry which meant he was termed an "octoroon" in Louisiana's complicated racial classification system. Because he could "pass" as white, Plessy was asked in 1892 to bring a legal challenge to an 1890 streetcar law that required segregation on
trains. The case, Plessy v. Ferguson, was heard by the US Supreme Court which, in 1896, ruled that the streetcar law was legal, and endorsed so-called "separate but equal" segregation. Plessy died in 1925.
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