In A Flash

Louisiana governor ‘certainly’ will approve pardon of Homer Plessy in landmark case

By: - November 17, 2021 5:40 pm
Gov. John Bel Edwards

Gov. John Bel Edwards (Photo by Wesley Muller)

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he will “certainly” approve the decision to pardon Homer Plessy — a Creole man whose arrest for sitting in a “whites-only” car led the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896 to uphold segregation on the basis of race for another 50 years.

“This is so historically significant,” Edwards said on his monthly radio show Wednesday.

In 1892, Plessy — who was described in the Supreme Court ruling as “a free man who was seven-eighths white and one-eighth of African descent” — was arrested for sitting in the whites-only section of railroad car on a train running between New Orleans and Covington. 


The Plessy v Ferguson decision justified racial segregation on trains and buses, hotels, theaters, schools and other public accommodations, according to the Associated Press. The decision stood until it was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

Edwards said he wants to invite family members of Plessy, who live in the New Orleans area, to be there when he fully approves the pardon and “takes away a conviction for something that should have obviously never ever been a crime.”

“We’re looking for an appropriate way to do this,” he said.


The Louisiana Board of Pardons voted last week to pardon Homer Plessy. Francis Abbott, executive director of the Louisiana Board of Pardons, said Plessy’s application “met all the requirements” to move forward in the pardon process.

Plessy’s case is the first to be pardoned under the Avery C. Alexander Act, which states that people convicted “to maintain or enforce racial separation or discrimination of individuals” will be granted a pardon.

“The Louisiana Board of Pardons is just very proud to be a part of the processing of this application,” Abbott said.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.