Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson with author Steve Luxenberg
Join us for an evening with author Steve Luxenberg, who will discuss and take questions on his recent book Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation. His award-winning narrative account revolves around the 1896 Supreme Court ruling, a legal battle rooted in the racial history of New Orleans and Louisiana. Please note, this program is part of the Second Thursday Lecture Series but is taking place on the third Thursday of the month to avoid any conflicts with carnival season. This program is free and open to the public and will take place on Zoom on Thursday, February 18 at 6:00 p.m. CST. Advanced registration is required. Please register here: https://forms.gle/vJkgfNVjFaask8xDA
About the Author
Steve Luxenberg is an associate editor at the Washington Post and the author of “Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation” and the critically acclaimed “Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret.” During his forty years as an editor and reporter, Steve has overseen reporting that has earned many national honors for his reporters, including two Pulitzer Prizes. “Separate” has received great critical acclaim, including being selected a New York Times 2019 Notable Book and one of Amazon’s Best Book of the Year in History for 2019. Steve lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
About the Book
Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first.
“Separate” spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours—race and equality. Wending its way through a half-century of American history, the narrative begins at the dawn of the railroad age, in the North, home to the nation’s first separate railroad car, then moves briskly through slavery and the Civil War to Reconstruction and its aftermath, as separation took root in nearly every aspect of American life.
Luxenberg draws from letters, diaries, and archival collections to tell the story of Plessy v. Ferguson through the eyes of the people caught up in the case. “Separate” depicts indelible figures such as the resisters from the mixed-race community of French New Orleans, led by Louis Martinet, a lawyer and crusading newspaper editor; Homer Plessy’s lawyer, Albion Tourgée, a best-selling author and the country’s best-known white advocate for civil rights; Justice Henry Billings Brown, from antislavery New England, whose majority ruling endorsed separation; and Justice John Harlan, the Southerner from a slaveholding family whose singular dissent cemented his reputation as a steadfast voice for justice.
Sweeping, swiftly paced, and richly detailed, “Separate” provides a fresh and urgently-needed exploration of our nation’s most devastating divide.