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Looking SouthRace, Gender, and the Transformation of Labor from Reconstruction to Globalization$
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Mary E. Frederickson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813036038

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813036038.001.0001

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Labor, Race, and Homer Plessy's Freedom Claim

Labor, Race, and Homer Plessy's Freedom Claim

(p.11) 1 Labor, Race, and Homer Plessy's Freedom Claim
Looking South

Mary E. Frederickson

University Press of Florida

This chapter examines interracial organizing in New Orleans in the decades after 1865 and examines labor actions in that city. The Louisiana racial segregation case that became Plessy v. Ferguson was decided in this milieu in a courtroom where Judge John H. Ferguson, a white Massachusetts-born southerner deeply fearful of social disorder, was challenged by Homer Plessy, a mixed-race shoemaker from the Faubourg Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans who had been arrested for refusing to leave the whites-only train car on the East Louisiana Railroad. Plessy believed in racial egalitarianism and unification; Ferguson, of abolitionist heritage, sought stability and order. Ferguson saw racial segregation laws as essential in restraining the power of labor in the South and the nation. His conviction of Homer Plessy set in motion the U.S. Supreme Court case that would institute the policy of “separate but equal” and shape American labor and race relations.

Keywords:   New Orleans, racial segregation, Plessy v. Ferguson, Homer Plessy, East Louisiana Railroad

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