THE ICON: Homer Plessy
THE LEGACY: Homer Plessy was just a shoemaker, that’s all. But on July 7, 1892, his name would become enshrined in American history when Plessy — a Creole man of color — bought a train ticket in New Orleans and climbed aboard a whites-only rail car bound for Covington. The train was stopped and he was promptly arrested, sparking a legal case — backed by the Comite des Citoyens, a local civil-rights group — that would result in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Plessy v. Ferguson ruling. The court would rule against Plessy, with its “separate but equal” judgment propping up segregation laws for 62 years, but it also laid the foundation for civil rights battles to come — and showed that anybody could take a stand to challenge the status quo. Even a humble shoemaker.
THE ARTIST: Jeremy Paten, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “Before there was Linda Brown versus the board of education, and before there was Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Improvement Association, there was Homer Plessy and a New Orleans group of eighteen men called the Comite des Cityoens.” — author Keith Weldon Medley in his book “We As Freeman: Plessy vs. Ferguson”