Ray Charles Refuses to Play in Augusta
Date: March 15, 1961
Though it wasn't quite the dramatized showdown Jamie Foxx portrayed in 2004's "Ray," the legendary soul singer did, in fact, turn down an offer to play a concert in his home state in 1961. When Bell Auditorium announced the show, students told Charles the dance floor would be for whites only and the upper balcony would be sectioned off for blacks. The singer immediately cancelled his appearance; he had crossed over two years prior with the hit "What'd I Say" and rejected the casual racism of the so-called "Chitlin' Circuit." The venue fined him for breach of contract, and in one of civil rights history's greatest flexes, he paid the fine and didn't play another show in Augusta, Georgia until after it was desegregated.