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The governor of the state of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, signed this Wednesday the posthumous “pardon” of Homer Plessy, a citizen of African American who in 1892 in New Orleans defied segregation laws in America and was convicted of refusing to get out of a white-only train car.
The Plessy case reached the US Supreme Court in 1896 where all the magistrates, except one, ratified the sentence by defending the racist laws of “segregated but equal” of that southern state of the country.
Plessy passed away in 1925 with the current conviction on his criminal record.
Judicial reference of racial segregation
The ruling against him was one of the judicial references in defense of racial segregation in the United States, which was in force until 1954 when the Supreme Court backed down.
In the symbolic act of forgiveness, John Bel Edwards was accompanied by Keith Plessy, one of Homer Plessy’s descendants.
“I feel as if my feet did not touch the ground today, because the ancestors are taking me,” Plessy said in statements collected by the local New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper.
The Orleans Parish district attorney, the same one in which activist Homer Plessy was convicted more than a century ago, was the one who applied for posthumous pardon.
Jake Williams, who runs that office and who was also present at the event, remarked that it was “important” that it was the same prosecutor’s office who requested clemency, and pointed out that he had done so with the aim that “the institution be forgiven.”
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