Start: Homer Plessy Plaque
Hi. My name is Andy. I'm a poet, educator, and mother, and I live and work in this neighborhood, the Bywater. Actually, we are standing right on the edge of it. The Bywater is demarcated by the railroad tracks and so starts just on the other side of it.
You should be standing on the corner of Royal and Press Streets, with the Press Street Station behind you, and the tracks ahead of you.
We will be checking out a few of the spots that I like to visit in this rapidly-changing neighborhood. Who knows what new sites will be here by the time you arrive at this spot. But no matter what changes, the past remains, and I want to begin by noting the significance of the spot where we are standing.
On the corner to your left, you will see a small plaque to mark an important moment in the history of civil rights, when Homer Plessy, in an act of civil disobedience, illegally boarded a train designated for whites only. Keith Plessy and Phoebe Ferguson – who are descendants of Plessy and Ferguson in the landmark supreme court case – unveiled the statue in 2009 in a symbol of solidarity with his legacy. The two have also formed the Plessy and Ferguson Foundation for Education and Reconciliation, in hopes of shedding light on lesser-known historical figures in Louisiana history. We’re going to end our walk close to here, so you can read the plaque later to find out more about Plessy’s historic act of defiance and some of its implications.
Now let's get going. Face the train tracks. You need to turn right to walk with the tracks on your left. I'll tell you how this works as we move. VoiceMap uses your location to play commentary automatically. You can put your phone away, and focus on the surroundings. There might be silence now and again, but just keep walking until I say otherwise.