One of the leaders of the influential Creoles l in New Orleans who founded the Citizens Committee for the annulment of the Seperate Car Act. Labat worked diligently to fight New Orleans segregationist laws. Labat paid a price for his willingnessto be a leader in the fight against Racial segregation in New Orleans.
In the midst of the Plessy Case, Labats funeral home was burned to the ground in an act of retaliation against the Civil Rights Activist. Although the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of seperate but equal facilities in the Plessy decision, Labat and the others learned the value of using their clout as local business leaders to fight injustice...
It was the Louisiana legislature’s passage of the Separate Car Act of 1890 that became the impetus for Homer Plessy’s train ride into history. That law forced railroad companies to segregate passengers by race and mandated the jailing of anyone riding in a section not allocated to their race. The Separate Car Act angered many Louisianans who had been free to ride anywhere on railroad trains since 1867.
To challenge the law, a group of men organized the ‘Citizens Committee for Annulment of Act No. 111 Commonly Known as the Separate Car Law’ ( Comite des Citoyens). This group consisted of Republican activists, writers, lawyers, businessmen, former Union soldiers, and educators. Their goal was to employ civil disobedience and the judicial system to eliminate segregation laws in Louisiana and throughout the South. During 1891 and 1892, the Citizens Committee raised funds, secured legal representation, and recruited volunteers for civil disobedience test cases including Homer Plessy.
It was June 7, 1892 when Homer Adolph Plessy was arrested for violating the 1890 Louisiana Separate Car Act. That day, Homer Plessy arrived at the Press Street Railroad yards near the Mississippi River. He boarded the White Only car of the East Louisiana Railroad’s Number 8 train that was bound for Covington, La. The conductor stopped the train and summoned a detective who forcibly dragged Homer from the train. Plessy’s arrest took place at the corner of Royal and Press Streets. He was released on a surety bond that evening and members of the Citizens Committee met him at the police station. That November, Judge John Ferguson ruled against him as did the Louisiana State Supreme Court. In 1893, the Citizens Committee appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes spoke the following of Him:
Never did the Creoles of Color boast a more loving and sympathetic man than Alcee Labat.This good man shared all the misfortunes of the Creole family - Death- Sickness as well as the moral sufferings which was so terrible and so common among Us.
His purse and personal services were always at the disposal of the public.Labat gave much help to the poor, giving money whenever these unfortunate People found themselves in need. Both individuals and groups remember his good deeds,In fact he was known to everyone. All have respect for his character and for the generous ways in which He distributed His works..
Until his death He retained the esteem and respect of his People. People who knew him spoke of his politeness as much as Hit sensitivity. Never did an offensive word come from his mouth.In every way Labat was a perfect gentleman. He was never known to betray his integrity ..