The inspiring story of how Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson, descendants of key figures in the infamous Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, have come together to fight for racially equality.
Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson were both born in New Orleans in 1957. Sixty-five years earlier, in 1892, a member of each of their families met in a Louisiana courtroom when Judge John Howard Ferguson found that Homer Plessy could be charged with breaking the law by sitting in a train car for white passengers. The case of Plessy v. Ferguson went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that “separate-but-equal” was constitutional, sparking decades of unjust laws and discriminatory 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 civil rights movements in New Orleans and throughout the U.S. This second edition includes a new epilogue describing a triumph that occurred a year after the first edition was published. In 2022, the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation, which was created by Keith and Phoebe in 2009 to change the legacy of the case that links their families, worked with a legal team and won a posthumous pardon for Homer Plessy.
Includes black and white photos throughout.
"Together has a second edition that adds a new coda to Homer Plessy's legal saga. Nearly 125 years to the day when [Homer] Plessy pled guilty in January 1897 and paid a $25 fine for violating the state's Separate Car Act, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards finally pardoned him for his act of civil disobedience. The book's author, Amy Nathan, recently spoke to Law360 about Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson's shared history, their petition for Homer Plessy's pardon, and how they replaced the 'versus' of Plessy v. Ferguson with 'and' to form the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation in 2009 to help educate people about the case and the legacy of segregation."—Law360
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION:
A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, 2022
"An ambitious account of the legacies of Plessy and Ferguson . . . Undeniably timely and representative of the necessary work ahead."—Kirkus Reviews
“In this transparent and multi-dimensional account, Nathan astutely examines the historical context and consequences of the Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case of 1896. Past and present are intertwined to provide a reflective space about race in America and the decisive action of advocates who fought and continue to fight for equal civil rights.”—School Library Journal
"Nathan’s history of race in the South is detailed, honest, and multifaceted, and Phoebe and Keith’s story is inspiring. Together is an accessible multigenerational story that shows the importance of acknowledging the complicated past when building a stronger future."—Foreword Reviews
“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, and author of In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863
“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, and co-author of Pedagogy, Policy, and the Privatized City: Stories of Dispossession and Defiance from New Orleans
“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
Watch an interview with the New Orleans FOX8 morning show and with the teen program at the DC Public Library. There is also a webinar with the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Read a Q&A with Amy Nathan by Deborah Kalb
Teacher's guide for Together [PDF]*
*Teachers can contact us about receiving a discount on this title. Email mara(a)pauldrybooks.com.
Discussion guide for book clubs [PDF]
Amy Nathan is an award-winning author of nonfiction books for adults and young people, including an earlier Paul Dry Books selection, Round and Round Together: Taking a Merry-go-Round Ride into the Civil Rights Movement (2011); Abrams Books brought out a picture book version of that volume, co-authored with Sharon Langley, A Ride to Remember (2020). A graduate of Harvard with master's degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Columbia's Teachers College, Nathan's other books for young people include two on women's history for National Geographic, two on music and dance for Holt, books on homework and allowances, and one about civil rights hero Sarah Keys Evans: Take a Seat—Make a Stand. She has also written three music-advice books for adults and young people for Oxford University Press. Nathan grew up in Baltimore and now lives in Westchester County, New York. www.AmyNathanBooks.com