March 28, 2017

Today in History: Plessy v. Ferguson

A rest stop for Greyhound bus passengers on the way from Louisville, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, with separate accommodations for colored passengers
Today in History–May 18–the Library of Congress features the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which ruled on this day in 1896 that separate-but-equal facilities on intrastate railroads were constitutional. The decision gave legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws and the decision was not reversed until May 17, 1954 when the Supreme Court unanimously agreed that segregation was unconstitutional in the case of Brown v. the Board of Education. Unfortunately, it would take even longer to abolish segregation laws. Learn more by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to access more teaching resources and primary sources related to this court case and the subsequent experiences of African Americans in it’s aftermath.

Jim Crow primary source set (17 items + teacher’s guide)

Jim Crow primary source set (144 items)

Photographs of Signs Enforcing Racial Discrimination

Colored image set

An airship with a “Jim Crow” trailer

Sample Articles from Chronicling America

More Plessy v. Ferguson historic newspaper coverage

Teaching Resources

Timeline of African American history

A Century of Racial Segregation, 1849-1950 online exhibition

Historical Comprehension: Jim Crow Laws primary source analysis activity (find items via African Americans in Ohio collection)

Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making: The Problem of Lynching primary source analysis activity

African American Identity in the Gilded Age: Two Unreconciled Strivings primary source lesson plan

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