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Light. Comfy. Good to go to. This is Lee Habib with Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show, including your story. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com.
That's OurAmericanStories.com. Our next story is a story from a listener from Australia, of all places, and how he came to fall in love with a food that is uniquely American, the buffalo wing. My name's Colin Beddles. I'm 50 years old, and currently I live in Sydney, Australia, which is on the other side of the country, about 4,000 kilometres or 2,500 miles away from where I grew up in Perth. At age 20, in 1990, I set off from Perth for a working holiday in the United Kingdom. I found my way to be working in a bar in the London suburb of Kensington, where I worked in between playing cricket for the London Theatres Cricket Club, among others. And in that bar, we mingled with students from all over the world, and we gained a different tuition on each other's worlds over a few beverages at the bar, of course. And during this time, I made some very good friends, so I didn't have any great conviction about where I was going to travel to while I was on my working holiday. And so I decided to go to the US and visit some of these friends that I'd made while working in the bar. And my first stop was to stay with a guy named James, who I'd met, who was attending a place called Colgate University in a small college town called Hamilton in upstate New York.
James lived across the road from a place called Ye Olde Pizza Pub. Now, my very first night that I stayed, they treated me to buffalo wings from there, and I'd never had them before in my life. In fact, I'd never even heard of them before, and they didn't have to do much to convince me to try them. And as they say, it was love at first bite. I was hooked on this new taste sensation straight away. What I remember most about that first time experience was the tenderness of the chicken that fell off the bone.
It didn't require, or virtually required, no chewing of the chicken meat, and of course the tangy, hot flavour sensation that exploded in my mouth. And the blue cheese dip, I always remember just how smooth and creamy that was, and how it complemented the hotness of the wings and enhanced the flavour. And basically that's where my love affair with buffalo wings started, and it continues to this day. My most memorable experience with a wing, well, as they say, there's nothing like the first time. So I think that first night with James and his college buddies eating wings for the first time at the farmhouse remains my greatest and most lasting memory.
But I also have another strong memory that always brings a smile to my face, and that's actually an evening spent out with some of those Colgate Uni friends, James and Jeff, Charles and Fran, in New York City in 1992 for my 22nd birthday. And we stumbled upon a place by accident, I can't recall its name, in fact there's quite a bit about the evening I can't recall, but this was a typical New York City dive bar, and while it was a dive bar, the upside was that they served these wings, and these wings were ranked on a scale according to their degree of hotness. Let's call it the chilli factor, and the serving at the top of this heatlist was called the Chernobyl wing. And it was a huge sized wing, and they only allowed them to be served one at a time.
Now this serving restriction, I may guess, was a requirement that was applied to the bar by the local fire department or a nearby health facility. Now common sense would tell you to avoid this sort of danger, but as they say, making mistakes is all just part of growing up, and down they went. It seemed like a fun idea at the time to dare each other to eat these ferociously hot wings that had more punch than the closing scenes of a Rocky movie, and to wash them down with one or two polite beverages, but we definitely had a few regrets the next morning and they lingered long into the next afternoon. Have I ever met a wing I don't like?
Well the answer is yes. One of my pet hates is when the wings are served whole and they haven't been cut up into flats and drum pieces and the tips haven't been cut off and thrown away. This tells me that there's a lazy and unsophisticated method behind these wings, that they've probably been pre-cooked and frozen, which means that the flavour is substandard and pretty bland, really. This is generally backed up by serving ranch sauce with the wings rather than authentic blue cheese dip, or lord forbid, mayonnaise or aioli sauce. Wings that are heavily baked in breadcrumbs are also just poor substitutes for the real thing, and call me a wing snob if you like, but if they're not authentic and if they're not genuine and if they're not the real deal and made with a bit of love and a bit of time and care, then you're better off doing your taste buds a favour and going without. Is there an American food and do I think that food is the buffalo wing?
Well the answer is quite simply yes. Some people might look at the hot dog and the deep pan pizza in Chicago, but at the end of the day they're just hybrids and they don't compare to the buffalo wing, which was born and raised in the USA. The back story to how the wing was invented on that famous Friday night at the Anchor Bar in 1964 proves that this great dish is purely American as it originated at the Anchor Bar.
It didn't originate in Germany or Italy or even Australia. It was in upstate New York at the Anchor Bar and it goes a bit like this. Dominic Bellassimo was tending bar late that evening and a group of his friends arrived with a big appetite and he asked his mother, Theresa, to prepare something for his friends to eat. Now she had some chicken wings which were normally preserved for soup in the kitchen of the Anchor Bar and she deep-fried them and flavoured them with a secret sauce and of course they became an instant hit and regular on the menu, not just at the Anchor Bar but all over the US and throughout the world and even in Australia now they're very popular and becoming more and more popular. And you've been listening to Colin Bettles and he's from Australia. He listens to our show in Australia too.
And by the way, America imports so many fine things around the world, our ingenuity in every endeavour, including of course food, when we come back more with Colin Bettles here on Our American Stories. Folks, if you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially the stories of America's rich past, know that all of our stories about American history, from war to politics to innovation, culture and faith, are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College, a place where students study all the things that are beautiful in life and all the things that are good in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.
Go to hillsdale.edu to learn more. Doing household chores can already be time-consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.
Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. True. I had one that night and I took my NURTEC ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.
But thankfully NURTEC ODT Remedipant 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.
It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we return to our American stories and to an Australian listener of this show, Colin Bettles. The story of the Buffalo Wing and of course this Australian's obsession with it. In the early 90s, Colin headed back to London from his trip to America and started work back at the Builders Arms Bar in Kensington.
Let's pick up the story from there. Now after my first trip to the US, I returned to live in London and I still had a strong craving for buffalo wings, but there was no wing seen in London in the early 1990s and so it was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack and I had to go without, which of course wasn't easy and I hadn't thought of the idea at that stage of cooking them myself. Anyway, after a period of time, a couple of my fellow bartenders and workmates at Builders Arms, Tim who is from New Zealand and Declan and Patrick, believe it or not, who are from Ireland, they'd learned about a US style bar and restaurant called TGI Friday's opening in Covent Garden and they duly informed me that TGI's served wings. This was a major breakthrough in my life at that age and this new TGI Friday's became a regular haunt for me and I'd often drag Tim and Declan and Patrick along there and anyone else who wanted to join me in a wingfest. They weren't the best wings I've ever had at TGI's, but they were certainly good and they certainly satisfied my appetite and I'd often dine by myself at TGI's just to get a plate of wings.
Now, about the age of 24, not that long after returning from living overseas in London, I decided to go into business for myself and I bought a fish and chip shop. Now, this youthful stab at capitalism was underscored by, of course, placing buffalo wings on the menu at North Beach Seafoods and this kept my wing dream slightly alive, shall we say. But in a modest way, it was just great to be serving wings at my own business, even if it was a fish and chip shop. Now, one of the things that happened at that time was my marketing for the buffalo wings included having a dedicated advertising board that my mate Benny Morgan did for me and he was a sign writer and on that advertising board he drew a picture of a buffalo with the price, which I'd say was probably about $5 for a serve of 12 wings with blue cheese dip. Customers would often come into the shop and look at the sign and go, oh, I didn't know buffaloes had wings. Anyway, then obviously I would just be able to give them an education on buffalo wings and they would put their hand in their pocket and buy some, hopefully. These chicken wings, though, they weren't cooked in corn or peanut oil.
Let's just say there was a slight oceanic texture to the final flavour and the chicken meat also had to be frozen because there wasn't a large number of orders on a daily basis, so I had to defrost the chicken first and this meant that it took a lot longer to cook the orders, about 40 minutes. So we'd lost sales, but this didn't put everyone off buying them and we had some good loyal customers who got into the habit of phoning their orders ahead, which is what you do with a fish and chip shop anyway, and so trying to train them up to buy buffalo wings and getting used to the slight delay. While I was never going to retire on buffalo wings alone from the fish and chip shop, it was certainly a great experience and I can always say that I came home and I tried to follow through on my buffalo wing dream and I did sell them to Australians for a while. Anyway, I sold the shop after a couple of years and I went to university where I studied theatre and drama and English and comparative literature and creative writing. Eventually I got into a career in rural and political journalism, which included working in the Canberra Press Gallery for several years.
Now the reason why it's probably important to talk about how I went from owning a fish and chip shop to going to university and then becoming a journalist is because my journalism career has opened up the door to some amazing opportunities and of course part of that is storytelling and in more recent years it has enabled me to be able to return to the US on a journalist visa and write stories about rural issues and farming issues and political issues. And on one of these trips I was able to visit the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York where buffalo wings originated. Now I was aware of that fact because it was mentioned in the introduction to that original wing recipe from the recipe book that I'd used in 1993. Now the intro to that recipe says this American classic originated at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York where it is still a favourite with locals and tourists alike. Now little did I know that one day I'd end up being one of those same tourists some 17 years later visiting that famous bar at 1047 Main Street in Buffalo. Anyway, when I arrived at the Anchor Bar, of course I sat at the bar and was soaking up the atmosphere and taking my time eating a great plate of incredible original buffalo wings. I eventually worked up the courage to ask the Anchor Bar's Executive Chef Ivano Toscanni if he would agree to do a story for me and that I'd travel all the way from Australia to capture the story of where and how buffalo wings originated.
Anyway, Ivano generously agreed and he took me out the back into the Anchor Bar's kitchen which is obviously the engine room of the business and it's where all the magic happens. So I asked him some questions and he gave me some great answers which obviously had been well rehearsed over the years I would say and that allowed me to write a great story about the history and origins of this American classic and to be able to share that with readers down under. Now just a quick summary of the story that I wrote and what Ivano told me and he said that the original recipe and cooking method used by Teresa Balasimo on the night she invented buffalo wings in 1964 is still being practised at the Anchor Bar. Ivano said that while Teresa didn't expect her wings to become an American legend they now rank alongside the hot dog James Dean and Elvis for American icon status and if you go to a fancy restaurant or if you sit at a bar and have a bar menu you will most likely find buffalo wings.
Ivano also said that the Anchor Bar served 2000 pounds which is 907 kilograms of chicken wings every single day and their famous hot sauce is also exported to Italy, Japan, France and Germany and they also ship fresh buffalo wings to just about anywhere in the country but just like London there was no way of buying them anywhere in Perth so the only way to solve that problem was to start making them myself. So I started cooking my own wings at home and like most great inventions the evolution of my recipe was born out of necessity and it certainly involved a great deal of trial and error. Let's say the focus was on the errors at that time but I started off by purchasing a recipe book that had the recipes for 365 different snacks and appetizers and I've still got the book today. Among the recipes was one for buffalo chicken wings and another one for blue cheese dip so this was at the time was a bit like discovering a map to hidden treasure or a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Originally I followed this recipe very closely and cooked the chicken wings using hot corn oil or peanut oil boiling in a pot heated on an electric stove and an old electric stove at that. Now needless to say this somewhat primitive cooking method proved somewhat problematic and there were some consequences that came with it such as setting fire to the kitchen and the curtains on more than one occasion definitely overcooking the wings on more than one occasion resulting in complaints from neighbours due to smoke inhalation and other catastrophes including splattering chilli sauce and melted butter on the walls. But I was determined to get the recipe right however I learnt from my mistakes and maintained a steadfast focus on continuous improvement and despite the misfired attempts and the burnt curtains I eventually found a groove and settled into a consistent way of making a decent batch of buffalo wings. I'm still cooking buffalo wings and while I enjoy cooking wings for family and friends there's certainly more time between wing hits now than they used to be in my 20s and in fact now I'm probably just as happy having the carrots and the celery alone. And great job on that piece by Monty and a beautiful piece of storytelling by Colin Bettles and he discovered this common food group here in the United States when he was a kid, when he was a college kid and the next thing you know this becomes his life's obsession.
The story of the chicken wing and an Aussie listener of Our American Stories, Colin Bettles here on Our American Stories. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. I mean that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life try All Free Clear Mega Packs. All Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. Which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes just know that All Free Clear Mega Packs they have your back.
Purchase All Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Such an exciting event like Wango Tango. It's true. I had one that night and I took my NURTEC ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NURTEC ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.
But thankfully NURTEC ODT Remedapants 75 milligrams is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.
If you're working past age 65 you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. This is Our American Stories and we love to tell stories about our nation's history. And as always all of our stories about history are brought to us by the great folks at Hillsdale College where you can go to learn all the things that matter in life, all the things that are beautiful in life. And if you can't get to Hillsdale, Hillsdale will come to you with their free and terrific online courses.
Go to hillsdale.edu. And as you know we like to bring you events that shaped our country and some for the better and some for the worst. And through it all there have been people fighting, fighting for the promises made in our Constitution. Sometimes the battles we fought have been lost. Today Robbie brings us the story of the Plessy v. Ferguson case and a Supreme Court decision that solidified segregation for over 50 years. It's told by a descendant of Homer Plessy himself, Keith Plessy.
Here's the story. Separate but equal. It's a phrase that haunted African Americans for years. The right to separate individuals, restaurants, businesses, train cars, buses based on the color of one's skin. Separate but equal was not a policy left over from the Civil War. It wasn't until more than 30 years after the Civil War that segregation became the law of the land.
But not all states fell in at the same time. And in New Orleans, Louisiana, there was a man named Homer Plessy who would, with the help of the country, fight for the equality that black citizens had tasted for a brief moment. My name is Keith Plessy. I am a fourth generation descendant of Homer Plessy, plaintiff in the Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896. Homer Plessy was born in 1863, March 17th, the same year that Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. He grew up in a turbulent time. Civil War was when he was an infant. Post-Civil War was his younger life where he experienced Reconstruction in Louisiana.
Being protected by the Union soldiers, they were able to attend the same schools as white citizens. There were three additions to the U.S. Constitution. Amendments, the 13th, the 14th, and the 15th Amendments. Those amendments came during Reconstruction. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery. The 14th Amendment equal protection of the laws.
And the 15th Amendment was the right to vote. So those three things occurred during Reconstruction, and Homer Plessy was a young man experiencing those changes. So it was developing him to not only enjoy the freedoms that came through Reconstruction, but to defend those rights when they were being taken away. And during his childhood, many protesters and activists of his time set the pace for him when he became a young man.
Homer Plessy's father died at a young age, and Homer Plessy was about six years old when his father passed away. His mother remarried into a family called the Duparts. Victor Dupart was part of the Unification Movement, and Victor Dupart's father-in-law was part of the Unification Movement. That movement combined white and black workers who protested for equal pay, and they got it during Reconstruction. However, when Homer Plessy became a young man, those rights were slowly deteriorating.
And Homer Plessy attended these meetings with his stepfather, Victor Dupart. And he was familiar with the Citizens' Committee, but he was not a member of the Citizens' Committee. That was a group of 18 lawyers, businessmen, prominent citizens, mixed-race organization. There were some white citizens, some African-American citizens, long in the battle for freedom.
I think their history goes back. Abolition, long before the Civil War. The American Revolution also participated in the Battle of New Orleans. The Citizens' Committee had a deep background in fighting for freedom. A lot of those ancestors of the Citizens' Committee who fought in the Plessy v. Ferguson case at the turn of the century were very much involved in the development of America. Homer Plessy himself had a relative that was decorated in the American Revolution. His great-grandfather was a gentleman by the name of Matthew Duvall. Matthew Duvall was decorated four times in battle in the American Revolution, which not being recognized as the American Revolution because Louisiana was still the Louisiana Territory during the American Revolution. So his history goes back. The right to fight for his freedom was born with the country.
And it was in his DNA to battle for his rights. When 1890 rolled around and Louisiana decided to jump into this segregation chain of laws that were spreading across the South, Florida had adopted its segregation laws on trains. Alabama was before Louisiana. And when Louisiana adopted its separate car law, it was 1890.
And by 1891, a challenge was being presented to them to change that law by the Citizens' Committee in New Orleans. The Withdrawal Car Act, or Separate Car Act, was a law passed in Louisiana that required railroad companies to provide equal but separate train car accommodations for blacks and whites. But Homer's case was not the first to challenge separate car laws.
Another man who was white passing, Daniel Daydude, boarded a first-class car traveling from New Orleans to Montgomery, Alabama. When Homer Plessy was selected, the state law was being challenged. The interstate law allowed trains outside the state of Louisiana, so it didn't apply. Separate car law didn't apply to those trains. But the trains that traveled within the state of Louisiana, were the ones who were restricted by race in each car. Well, if you look at the Louisiana law as it was written, you had a first-class car that was designated for white citizens and a second-class car that was designated for anyone of color. In the system of the East Louisiana Railroad, they would have preferred to sell all first-class tickets as opposed to a separate car that had to be set up. Say, for instance, the white car was not full.
One black citizen comes up to ride the train. You have to prepare another car for this guy, and you have a schedule to meet when your train is taken off. It's going from one area to another. They delayed that process by changing a car, having to add a car to the train. It took off a lot of time from the schedule, which resulted in poor service. So those who wanted to exercise segregation on those trains had to suffer being late for their appointments.
So it didn't make sense. I understand you're listening to Keith Plessy, and what a story this is and anyone who's ever read the case. You can actually just type in Plessy v. Ferguson and read the opinion because it's astonishing. When we come back, we're going to continue with Keith Plessy's voice, and again, a direct relative, a descendant of Homer Plessy. My goodness, it's a name you've heard, but it's a real-life person. That's why we love telling you these stories. They're real-life people, and without them doing what they did, things wouldn't have changed. It took a lot of courage to do what he did.
When we come back, more of the story of Plessy v. Ferguson as told by Keith Plessy here on Our American Stories. Doing household chores can already be time-consuming and tedious, and there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done. That can be overwhelming for anyone. If you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try All-Free Clear Mega Packs. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All-Free Clear Mega Packs are also 100% free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs, which my family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that All-Free Clear Mega Packs, they have your back.
Purchase All-Free Clear Mega Packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. Hey, you guys. This is Tori and Jenny with the 90210MG podcast. We have such a special episode brought to you by NerdTek ODT. We recorded it at iHeartRadio's 10th poll event, Wango Tango. Did you know that NerdTek ODT Remedipant 75 mg can help migraine sufferers still attend such an exciting event like Wango Tango? It's true. I had one that night and I took my NerdTek ODT and I was present and had an amazing time. Here's a little glimpse of our conversation with some of our closest friends. This episode was brought to you by NerdTek ODT Remedipant 75 mg. Life with migraine attacks can mean missing out on big moments with friends and family.
But thankfully, NerdTek ODT Remedipant 75 mg is the only medication that is proven to treat a migraine attack and prevent episodic migraines in adults. So, lively events like Wango Tango don't have to be missed. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th.
If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage. It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more.
UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. And we're back with our American stories and the story of the U.S. Supreme Court case, probably the most infamous, the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case. When we last left off, Homer Plessy was working with an organization to actually get caught so they could start the legal battle that would land him at the Supreme Court. When one looked at Plessy, they couldn't tell if he was white or black, and this is part of how they hoped to challenge the separation of individuals into white cars and black cars.
Here's Homer's descendant again, Keith Plessy, continuing with this story. Now, that law also created another problem, which was, how do you tell that a person's black or a person's white? In New Orleans, you had so many citizens who appeared to be white, but they were actually black. And it was hard for the conductors to determine the race of someone until today is still a problem because, you know, I have a personal take on that. I say that one of the most ridiculous rules that were developed back then was called the one-drop rule, that if you had one drop of African blood in your line, your genealogy line, that you were considered black. And in Homer Plessy's case, one of the most ridiculous things that they were saying was that he was one-eighth black because of his great-grandmother, Agnes, who was a slave.
So he was considered an octoroon. You know, I mean, that's kind of ridiculous to try to have a meter to measure someone's race. You know, it just went into so many ridiculous that, you know, rather than being recognized as a human being, as a person, you had to talk about somebody's color, their skin, you know.
It just didn't make any sense to me. The Citizens Committee had already cut a deal with the East Louisiana Railroad to work on this plan to change the law. So when Homer Plessy approached that train station, he was already expected to arrive. He purchased his ticket without conflict, he entered the train, the train car which was designated for whites only, and he sat down. Well, the conductor and the arresting officer were also hired by the Citizens Committee and the East Louisiana Railroad to arrest Homer Plessy, take him off that train so that they can challenge the law.
He was bailed out because the bail was set so he could be released. The initial criminal case was overseen by Judge John Howard Ferguson, and he ruled that Louisiana was able to regulate their intrastate travel in whatever manner they deemed fit. After the verdict was passed, the Citizens Committee stepped in and appealed the case up to the state supreme court. That result of the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and it was challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court by Homer Plessy and the Citizens Committee.
And that's when it became Plessy versus Ferguson. It became a national case. What the Citizens Committee did to raise money to represent Homer Plessy, I think the phrase, if I can get it correct, was the liberality of the rich and the might of the poor combined. So you had a list around the United States of people who sent a dollar, who sent $10.
Some people sent 50 cents. But everybody combined created the fund to represent Homer Plessy in the U.S. Supreme Court. And it was a national representation. It was fought for about four years.
However, it was unsuccessful, as history would write it. The decision was separate but equal. It became the law of the land. But in that instance, a new era of civil rights pioneers were developing around the scene of that case. A fight that continued to actually change the law. After separate but equal was adopted as the law of the land, many other areas that were not segregated became segregated. So it brought about a backward step to America that I think it was a crippling situation. Probably one of the worst, if not the worst, decisions at a point in American history where we could have actually turned the tables on the inequalities that the country was producing. At the same time with this narrative of equal justice for all, it was not being practiced at that time.
And it was given teeth. Jim Crow gave segregation teeth to bite into American society in every facet possible. I mean, you had drinking fountains. Parks didn't allow you to come into certain areas. Even when I was a kid, there was a park that exercised weekends for white kids. Black kids had to squeeze in a little time in the park during the week.
After school. And the weekends where everybody was out of school, we couldn't go in that park. I was born in 1957, so that's a long time after 1896. And, you know, it was still affecting my life as a kid growing up in New Orleans. Eventually Brown versus Board of Education changed Homer Plessy's case, the Plessy decision, changed the landscape of civil rights law at that point. But transportation still was not changed until maybe the 60s when you had the Civil Rights Act signed. There were still buses being attacked.
So the transportation issue was not solved. It was education in Brown v. Board. I remember as a child in elementary school being told that I was related to Homer Plessy. One of my teachers, who I can remember, Ms.
Waters, she brought the phone book into the room. And while we were talking about Plessy v. Ferguson, she looked at my name, stood me up in front of the class, and told the kids, Keith's last name is spelled just like Homer Plessy's. But it wasn't until much later that Keith realized how closely related he was to Homer.
1996, when I met author Keith Weldon Medley. And this gentleman was doing research on Homer Plessy. He had done extensive research, and his book was being developed.
It was called We as Free Men, Plessy v. Ferguson, The Fight Against Segregation. And his book entailed the genealogy of Homer Plessy's family. And that's when I really found out my connection to Homer Plessy through my great-grandfather. And also, at the same time, he was doing research on Judge John Howard Ferguson. And not long after, Phoebe Ferguson, Judge Ferguson's great-great-granddaughter, and Keith Plessy, whose great-grandfather was Homer Plessy's cousin, would meet. He invited us to his book signing, which we had never seen or known of each other before then.
And at his book signing, we met for the first time. And when I first met Ms. Ferguson, she shook her hand and she began to apologize for slavery, segregation, and anything that ever went wrong during racial relations. And I kind of interrupted her and said, hey, it's not our fault that those things happen. We can do something different. It's no longer Plessy versus Ferguson.
It's Plessy and Ferguson. So we became friends at that instant, and we've been friends ever since. And it took us from 2004 to 2009, when we actually developed the foundation. We signed our letters of incorporation at a restaurant called Cafe Reconcile. When we signed our papers there, we didn't realize that on July 9th, we were signing those papers.
The 14th Amendment, it was adopted to the U.S. Constitution on July 9th, 1868. And great job, as always, to Robbie. And the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation is doing a lot to educate folks. Together, Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson are spreading their message that their mutual history can be a tool to create unity and understanding. I wanted to read you the lone dissenting opinion. Everyone knows that the statute in question had its origin in the purpose not so much to exclude white people from railroad cars occupied by blacks, but as to exclude colored people from coaches occupied by or assigned to white people. Our Constitution is colorblind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.
The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights, as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land, are involved. And that is Justice Harlan dissenting in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896. Plessy v. Ferguson is told by Keith Plessy.
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