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SEPARATE: THE STORY OF PLESSY V. FERGUSON

Steve Luxenberg

Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court of the United States 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 19th century. Its outcome embraced and protected segregation, and its reverberations are still felt today.

Sweeping, swiftly paced, and richly detailed, SEPARATE provides a fresh and urgently-needed exploration of our nation’s most devastating divide.

SEPARATE: THE STORY OF PLESSY V. FERGUSON AND AMERICA'S JOURNEY FROM SLAVERY TO SEGREGATION spans a striking range of characters and landscapes, bound together by the defining issue of their time and ours: race and equality. 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.

Award-winning author Steve 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 Tourge, 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 lone dissenting vote cemented his reputation as a steadfast voice for justice.

Steve Luxenberg is a Washington Post associate editor and author of the award-winning Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret. His new 2019 book, Separate, was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, as well as a Best Book of the Month by both Amazon and Goodreads. It won the J. Anthony Lukas Award for excellence in nonfiction.

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Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780393239379
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 12th, 2019