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How did racism affect Ray Charles?


Question: How did racism affect Ray Charles?
Answer: Although he was, by all accounts, never bitter about his troubles, racism obviously had a profound effect on Ray Charles, coming up as he did in the Fifties in America. Because he moved in musical circles, kept to more urban areas, and was disabled, he avoided some of the problems other Southern-born African-Americans dealt with (the school he learned music in was segregated, but it took he and his other blind classmates a while to figure it out).

However, there were incidents that stood out, most notably on March 15, 1961, when Ray was scheduled to play the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, GA. Students of Paine College, located nearby, sent the singer a telegram letting him know that the show that night would be segregated -- a whites-only dance floor, and the rear of the stage set up as a separate viewing auditorium for blacks. Charles immediately left town after letting the public know why he wouldn't be performing. While there was no immediate incident, the show's promoters sued him for breach of contract. Ray paid the fine, and played Augusta again... after it was desegregated.

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