Segregation definition, Plessy Vs. Ferguson / Separate but equal

Merriam-Webster defines segregation as:
a: the separation or isolation of a race, class, or ethnic group by enforced or voluntary residence in a restricted area, by barriers to social intercourse, by separate educational facilities, or by other discriminatory means
b: the separation for special treatment or observation of individuals or items from a larger group

Segregation is isolating and set apart one’s own kind away from the main body or group. Segregation causes hostility between two groups, causing negative disputes.
Why do we segregate ourselves? Over time, ignorance and generations of biased opinions have been passed down, which may be taught to us.

Homer Vs. Ferguson & Separate but Equal:
The case of Homer vs. Ferguson & Separate but Equal is an example of the segregation back then. 30-year old shoemaker named Homer Plessy was arrested for sitting in the White Car of the East Louisiana Railroad. He was only 1/8 black and would typically be passed as white. However, the state of Louisiana passed the Separate Car Act in 1890, segregating the whites and colored races on trains. According to the law, and despite his light complexion, he would be considered “colored” and required to sit in the “colored” car.
After the unfair treatment between whites and colored people, Plessy decided to take a stand. He filed a petition against Judge John H. Ferguson, who was the judge for the criminal district court of New Orleans. On June 7th, 1892, he paid a first-class ticket, deliberately sat in the White’s car, identified himself as black, and was arrested.
At court, Judge John H. Ferguson agreed that the law was fair. The case was then moved to the Supreme Court, which had recently ruled segregation as constitutional on May 18th, 1896. Furthermore, Plessy and his lawyer argued that these laws violated the 13th and 14th amendment. Despite their reasonable defense, the court, along with many others, they still ruled against Plessy… all except for one.
The only other objection was Justice John Harlan and his ‘Great Dissent’. He stated, “In the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful…What can more certainly arouse race hate, what more certainly create and perpetuate a feeling of distrust between these races, than state enactments, which, in fact, proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens? That, as all will admit, is the real meaning of such legislation.”
As a result of the case, the states’ laws would only be constitutional if they were separate, but equal. However, that was not the case. The facilities and treatment for blacks were always inferior to the whites. Plessy believed “colored” races should be given recognition, rights, and protection as whites.
Although Plessy was still placed in jail in the end, his protest sparked people’s thoughts and reactions…

Sources:
http://www.law.louisville.edu/library/collections/harlan/dissent
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_plessy.html



Homer vs. Ferguson
In 1890, in Louisiana, there was a law passed called the “Separate Car Act" or Act 111. Blacks could not sit in a car designated for White people and a White people could not sit in a “Black” car. When Louisiana had passed the law, a black civil rights group wanted to challenge the law.

Homer A. Plessy was only black, and white, but he was still arrested on June 7, 1892 for the violation of Act 111 when he sat in a white section after announcing that he was black. He was only 30 at the time. Plessy took his case to court and it went all the way up to the Supreme Court where his lawyer argued that The Separate Car Act violated the 13th and 14th amendments of the US constitution. The 13th amendment talks about the abolishment of slavery. It says that slavery shall not exist within the United States. The 14th amendment is about citizenship rights. All people born in the United States are citizens of the United States. No state can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without the process of law, nor deny any person equal protection of the laws.

At Supreme Court, Justice Henry Brown wrote for a majority, "A statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races -- has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races. ... The object of the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either."

The only arguer was Justice John Harlan. He said that the constitution was color blind, and all citizens were equal. Despite the arguments by Harlan, Plessy, and his lawyer, the seperations were not removed. Instead, a new law was passed. Separate facilities for Blacks and Whites were constitutional as long as they were equal. This law, Separate but Equal, quickly spread to all areas of life, all though it was not true. The facilities provided for Blacks were far inferior to those for Whites.

Homer Plessy ended up jailed for his violation of laws, and the treatment of Blacks was not changed, except for the fact that "equal" separation was now lawful.

Sources:
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_plessy.html
http://www.watson.org/~lisa/blackhistory/post-civilwar/plessy.html
http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am13
http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/topics/plessy.html