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An Inspiring Response To The “Separate-But-Equal” Supreme Court Decision That Divided America

    Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson were born in New Orleans in 1957. Sixty-five years earlier a member of each family met in a courtroom when Judge John Howard Ferguson found Homer Plessy guilty of breaking the law by sitting in a train car for white riders.

    The case of Plessy v. Ferguson went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in 1896 that "separate-but-equal" was constitutional, sparking decades of unjust laws and attitudes.

     In TOGETHER, Amy Nathan threads the personal stories of Keith and Phoebe into the larger history of the Plessy v. Ferguson case, race relations, and the civil rights movement, telling the inspiring tale of how Keith and Phoebe change the ending of the story that links their families in history. As Keith Plessy says in the book, "It's a flip on the script."

     Cover Art © Ayo Scott.



"Amy Nathan's well-researched and beautifully written book makes clear the history of racism that has kept Black people separate and unequal in U.S. society for so long—and how we today can work to chart a new future. The friendship between Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of the antagonists in the infamous Supreme Court decision that cemented racial inequality, Plessy v. Ferguson, demonstrates that ancestry need not be destiny—if we are willing to do the hard work of repair. In Amy Nathan's capable hands, their intertwined histories come alive, demonstrating one of many paths we can purposefully take towards a more equitable society."
—Leslie M. Harris, Professor of History, Northwestern University

"I found TOGETHER simultaneously fascinating and moving. It is a prime example of how best to engage young people in the study of history—particularly Black history—and of the law. A true story of real people, how the tragedy of the Supreme Court's 'separate-but-equal' decision (1896) affected them, and how their descendants came together to document the struggle for civil rights in their city and state."
—Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg, Senior Circuit Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University
"As a high school teacher and education professor, I've always despised history textbooks. They either ignore racial inequities or simplify struggles to change them. They disconnect past from present, leaving youth to ask, 'Why does this matter?' This question will never be asked of Nathan's Together. In this storied rendering of the fight against segregation, readers come to know the people and places, the dreams, and conflicts that not only shaped past freedom movements, but the actions of descendants who demand justice today. From oral testimony to artistic murals, from family trees to historic markers, Black Lives Matter in these pages. Together is a literary lightning bolt, an anti-racist curriculum that will shake the ground in New Orleans and beyond." 

—Kristen Buras, Associate Professor, Georgia State University
"Some of the things I loved about TOGETHER are its connections of critical big historic moments to individual personal understandings; its readable summary of Reconstruction; and its theme of 'inspiring others,' both the whole concept of descendants coming together to make change, and the way readers can see specific examples of what has been and can be done."
—Dr. Mary Battenfeld, American and New England Studies, Boston University