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Talking About Race: Plessy v. Ferguson and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation

As part of Open Society Institute–Baltimore’s Talking About Race series, Washington Post senior editor Steve Luxenberg talks with Judge Robert Bell about his latest book, Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation. 

Drawing 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, Plessy v. Ferguson 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.

Luxenberg will discuss the book and its current-day relevance with Bell, who served as chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—from 1996 to 2013. He was the first African-American to hold the position.


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    Steve Luxenberg


    Steve Luxenberg is a senior editor at the Washington Post and is the author of Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and America's Journey from Slavery to Segregation.

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    Robert Bell


    Robert Bell was chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals from 1996 to 2013.

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