After the American Civil War (1861–1865), the government provided protection for the civil rights of slaves. The Thirteenth Amendment was to abolish slavery, except as a punishment for crime. The term "slavery" implies involuntary servitude or bondage and the ownership by human beings of other human beings as property. In the Civil Rights Cases (1883), the Fourteenth Amendment applied only to the actions of government, not to those of private individuals, and as a result did not protect persons against individuals or private entities. The State of Louisiana passed Act 111 that required separate living quarters for African Americans and Whites on railroads. It specified if blacks and whites cant be together the must be kept "equal".
Several African Americans and Whites in New Orleans formed an association. It was formed to test the Separate Car Act. They enlisted Homer Plessy, who was one-eighth black. The plan was for Plessy to be thrown off the railway car and arrested not for vagrancy, but for violating the Separate Car Act, which could and did lead to a challenge with the high court.
The Committee hired a detective to ensure that Plessy was arrested. They chose Plessy because, with his light skin color, he could buy a first class train ticket and, at the same time, be arrested when he announced, while sitting on board the train, that he had an African-American ancestor.
The main roots of Plessy v. Ferguson were in part tied to the scientific racism of the era. On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy boarded a car of the East Louisiana Railroad in New Orleans, Louisiana, bound for Covington, Louisiana, that was designated for use by white patrons only, as mandated by state law. Although Plessy was born a free person and was one-eighth black and seven-eighths white, under a Louisiana law enacted in 1890, he was classified as black, and thus required to sit in the "colored" car. When, in an act of planned disobedience, Plessy refused to leave the white car and...