Fighting Poverty with Passion
The month of February begins Black History Month, which is an important month not only for myself but for Homer A. Plessy Community School as a whole. Historically speaking, race and education have been linked and continue to be so, even today. In order to fully understand the impact of what our school means and stands for, one must be educated about who Homer A. Plessy was, and why the school chose him as their namesake.
Homer Adolf Plessy was born March 17, 1862 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the time Plessy was passé blanc, meaning that he could pass or be easily mistaken for a white man. After the Separate Car Act was passed in the state of Louisiana professing that train cars are to be segregated. Homer A. Plessy purchased a first class train ticket and sat in the “whites only” section. He was not initially ejected because of his coloring but later told the conductor he was 1/8 African from his great-grandmother. This information incited the conductor and combined with Plessy’s refusal to move his seat, he was thrown off the train and jailed overnight. Citing a violation of his 13th and 14th amendment rights the case reached the Supreme Court in Plessy Vs. Ferguson.
Plessy was found guilty of civil disobedience but the ruling changed the course of history as we know it. The phrase “separate but equal” was pulled from the proceedings and was later used to justify segregation in the south. The separate but equal clause allowed and encouraged segregation and the use of Jim Crow laws, as long as the public facilities were equal. As we all know public spaces looked more like the cartoon below. The civil rights movement aimed to change all that in the 1960’s, citing cases like Plessy Vs. Ferguson as a prime example of legalized racism in the south and how separate did not mean equal, but just the opposite. This phrase applied especially to education where students were segregated but school were not equal in instruction or facilities as demonstrated by the court case Brown Vs. The Board of Education.
The Citizens’ Committee for Education named the school they were creating in honor of Homer A. Plessy’s bravery and his actions as a responsible citizen. As a matter of fact, the mission statement of Homer A. Plessy Community School is “to develop students who think critically and act responsibly as citizens.” As the namesake of a famous New Orleanian and civil rights activist, Homer A. Plessy Community school hopes to educate and inspire others to be responsible citizens by starting with our youth.