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Making Race in the CourtroomThe Legal Construction of Three Races in Early New Orleans$
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Kenneth R. Aslakson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724316

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724316.001.0001

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From Adele to Plessy

(p.185) Epilogue
Making Race in the Courtroom

Kenneth R. Aslakson

NYU Press

This concluding chapter presents Plessy v. Ferguson—the case that constitutionalized Jim Crow laws. The case reshaped the racial identities of people of African descent in New Orleans as the U.S. Supreme Court not only upheld the Louisiana Separate Car Act—which required railway carriers to segregate on the basis of race—but also implicitly classified all people with any degree of African ancestry, from former “Negro” slaves to “octoroons” whose ancestors had been free for generations, as belonging to the same race. In addition, the case helped establish a biracial system in postbellum Louisiana. As such, Plessy v. Ferguson —as well as the other case studies in the book—suggests that race is less a category than it is a process, which is continuously being made and remade.

Keywords:   Plessy v. Ferguson, Jim Crow, New Orleans, Louisiana Separate Car Act, Negro, octoroons, race

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