Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1896

Supreme Court rules in Plessy v. Ferguson

In a major victory for supporters of racial segregation, the U.S. Supreme Court rules seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, which indicated that the federal government would officially tolerate the “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts in actuality, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere because of the ruling. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was struck down by the Supreme Court in their unanimous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mount St. Helens erupts

At 8:32 a.m. PDT, Mount St. Helens, a volcanic peak in southwestern Washington, suffers a massive eruption, killing 57 people and devastating some 210 square miles of wilderness. Called Louwala-Clough, or “the Smoking Mountain,” by Native Americans, Mount St. Helens is located in ...read more

India joins the nuclear club

In the Rajasthan Desert in the municipality of Pokhran, India successfully detonates its first nuclear weapon, a fission bomb similar in explosive power to the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. The test fell on the traditional anniversary of the Buddha’s ...read more

Pope John Paul II born

On May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in the Polish town of Wadowice, 35 miles southwest of Krakow.Wojtyla went on to become Pope John Paul II, history’s most well-traveled pope and the first non-Italian to hold the position since the 16th century. After high school, the ...read more

Mount St. Helens erupts

Mount St. Helens in Washington erupts, causing a massive avalanche and killing 57 people on this day in 1980. Ash from the volcanic eruption fell as far away as Minnesota. Seismic activity at Mount St. Helens, which is 96 miles south of Seattle, began on March 16. A ...read more

The siege of Vicksburg commences

On this day, Union General Ulysses S. Grant surrounds Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, in one of the most brilliant campaigns of the war. Beginning in the winter of 1862-63, Grant made several attempts to capture Vicksburg. In March, he marched ...read more