Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lawyer in “Separate but Equal” Case Is Subject of Symposium Nov. 4

RALEIGH – A former Union soldier, Albion Tourgée returned to North Carolina to settle in Greensboro in 1865. A lawyer, judge, novelist and activist, he worked for racial equality in the post-slavery South.

The symposium “A Radical Notion of Democracy: Law, Race, and Albion Tourgée, 1865-1905” on Nov. 4, at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Building in Raleigh, will examine his legacy.

Tourgée achieved national fame when representing Homer Plessy in the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He lost, and “separate but equal” facilities and the practice of racial segregation were established.

Through Tourgée’s efforts, the North Carolina constitution of 1868 guaranteed free public education. That and other achievements will receive special attention in the symposium, along with his lasting contributions to the national discourse on civil rights through the concept of a “color-blind” society argued in the Plessy v. Ferguson case.

An opening keynote address will be by Mark Elliot of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, author of “Color Blind Justice: Albion Tourgée and the Quest for Racial Equality from Civil War to Plessy v. Ferguson.” The closing keynote will be by Blair Kelley of N.C. State University, author of “In Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship in the Era of Plessy v. Ferguson.”

Eight panel discussions with distinguished scholars of law and history are planned. A dramatic presentation in the State Capitol of portions of the Constitutional Convention of 1868, will conclude the program, followed by a reception.

Registration is required for the free symposium, which also offers education credit to teachers and lawyers. Register at The major sponsors of the symposium are the UNC Center for the Study of the American South and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources’ Office of Archives and History.

About the UNC Center for the Study of the American South

A research arm of UNC-Chapel Hill, the Center for the Study of the American South ( is the region’s premiere institution for original research, teaching, and public dialog on the history, culture and contemporary experience of the American South.

About the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives. Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy. To learn more, visit<>.

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