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15 Ariz. L. Rev. 389 (1973)
The Strange Career of Plessy v. Ferguson

handle is hein.journals/arz15 and id is 393 raw text is: THE STRANGE CAREER OF PLESSY v. FERGUSON
Paul Oberst*
In 1955 Vann Woodward, in his book The Strange Career of
Jim Crow,1 challenged the conventional history of the times with his
demonstration that racial segregation, far from being a long standing
and inevitable American folkway, came gradually on the scene in the
late nineteenth century and attained its most absurd developments only
in the twentieth century. Indeed, it was only after the decision of the
United States Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson,2 upholding an
1890 railroad segregation statute and validating state-imposed segrega-
tion as equality, that rigid segregation-in-fact began to run rampant.
Then, with increasing frequency, it began to be transmitted by legisla-
tion into an elaborate, but unsystematic and often conflicting, body of
Jim Crow laws. Segregation statutes lent the sanction of law to a ra-
cial ostracism that extended to churches and schools, to housing and
jobs, to eating and drinking.    to virtually all forms of public trans-
portation, to sports and recreations, to hospitals, orphanages, prisons,
and asylums, and ultimately to funeral homes, morgues, and ceme-
teries.3  It seems today that Plessy was indeed one of the pivotal de-
cisions of the Supreme Court.'
There was a time in the 1960's when segregation did seem to be
vanishing, but the intractable problems of segregated housing and the
bussing issue of today serve to warn us that there are miles to go
* Professor of Law, University of Kentucky; A.B. 1936, Evansville College; LL.B.
1939, University of Kentucky; LL.M. 1941, University of Michigan.
1. See generally V. WOODWARD, THE STRANGE CAREER OF Jim CRow (1955)
[hereinafter cited as V. WOODWARD].
2. 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
3. V. WOODWARD, supra note 1, at 8.
4. It is important to note that the pernicious effects of Plessy were not always
recognized. Charles Warren, in his IsTORY OF THE SUPREME COURT OF Tim UNrrED
STATES, vol. 2, 690-728 (1926), does not even mention Plessy in chapter 37, Chief
Justices Fuller and White 1888-1918, although several quite forgettable cases decided
at the October 1895 term are discussed. Indeed, there is not one index reference either
to segregation or Plessy in WARREN!

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