Editorial in the New Orleans Crusader on the Separate Car Act (1890)
The New Orleans Crusader began operation in 1889 under the editorship of Louis A. Martinet. Martinet helped to found the American Citizens’ Equal Rights Association and the local Comité des Citoyens, both precursors to similar civil rights organizations that emerged in the twentieth century. Martinet used the Crusader’s editorial pages to critique the encroaching era of Jim Crow. A specific target of his ire was the Separate Car Act, a law that segregated train cars in Louisiana. In another precursor of the modern civil rights struggle, Martinet calls for a boycott of the train system in the excerpt below. Not long after the law’s passage, Martinet helped to orchestrate the arrest of Homer Plessy, which would eventually lead to the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson case of 1896, which made segregation legal for nearly sixty years.