BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Over a century later, Louisiana civil rights activist Homer Plessy is being pardoned for challenging a segregation law.
The application for Plessy’s pardon has been brought under a 2006 Louisiana statute, the Avery C Alexander Pardon law, a law New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams said has never been used but he feels was created for this exact moment.
“There are small things that we can all do everyday to atone for the sins of the past that we had nothing to do with,” said Williams.
125 years later Homer Plessy could finally have his name cleared. His crime? Refusing to sit in the “colored car” section of a train in 1892 New Orleans. A year later, Plessy pleaded guilty to violating the Separate Car Act and he was fined $25.
“There is no doubt that he was guilty of that act on that date, but there is equally no doubt that such an act should have never been a crime in this country,” said Williams.
A decision that would make the “Separate but Equal” doctrine constitutional. Decades later, before descendants of Plessy and Judge Jon Howard Ferguson, the Louisiana Board of Pardon and Parole posthumously pardoned Homer Plessy.
“The Supreme Court’s infamous decision gave a green light to a slew of law by southern states that created a Jim Crow regime,” said Williams.
Plessy died convicted of the same act Rosa Parks would take over 60 years later.
“I once met Rosa Parks, and as I knelt before her to thank her for all her hard work, she said to me, ‘Get up boy, your last name is Plessy, you got work to do,'” said Homer Plessy’s cousin, Keith Plessy.
There was a unanimous vote to submit the pardon to Gov. John Bel Edwards as he has the final say over the pardon.