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A Refugee from His RaceAlbion W. Tourgée and His Fight against White Supremacy$
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Carolyn L. Karcher

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781469627953

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627953.001.0001

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Representing People of Color and Challenging Jim Crow in the Plessy Case

Representing People of Color and Challenging Jim Crow in the Plessy Case

(p.253) Chapter Six Representing People of Color and Challenging Jim Crow in the Plessy Case
A Refugee from His Race

Carolyn L. Karcher

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 6 presents a fresh perspective on the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case. Detailing Tourgée’s close collaboration with Louis A. Martinet and the New Orleans Citizens’ Committee in challenging Jim Crow, the chapter first refutes the myth that Tourgée’s Creole-of-color clients objected to his strategy of using a light-skinned plaintiff to embody the wrongfulness of segregation. Next, through rhetorical analysis of the brief Tourgée submitted to the Supreme Court, the chapter argues that Tourgée sought on the one hand to expose the concept of race as unscientific and thus legally untenable and on the other hand to reclaim the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments as bulwarks against discrimination. Finally, the chapter contrasts Tourgée’s bitter ex-post-factum denunciations of the Court for having endorsed white supremacy and the racial caste system with the surprisingly muted public reaction to the Court’s verdict.

Keywords:   Plessy v. Ferguson, Louis A. Martinet, New Orleans Citizens’ Committee, Jim Crow, Segregation, Race as unscientific and legally untenable concept, White supremacy, Racial caste system

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