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Plessy v. Ferguson: Primary Documents in American History

In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional, upholding racial segregation laws. This guide provides access to digital materials, external websites, and a print bibliography.

Introduction

On May 18, 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson ruled that separate-but-equal facilities were constitutional. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation over the next half-century. The ruling provided legal justification for segregation on trains and buses, and in public facilities such as hotels, theaters, and schools. The impact of Plessy was to relegate African Americans to second-class citizenship. The Supreme Court overruled the Plessy decision in Brown v. the Board of Education on May 17, 1954.