Ray Charles Desegregates NOLA, 1963


At least that’s the way Sax Kari told it. This little installment of the Sax Kari Photograph Collection comes from Sax’s career as a chitlin’ circuit promoter. He brought Ray Charles to New Orleans, Louisiana’s  Loyola University auditorium in 1963. According to him, it was the first show in New Orleans to allow racially mixed seating. He had the presence of mind to take a few snaps of the desegregated audience, the best of which appears below.

First, a shot of Brother Ray, during the time of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Busted.” Here he waits in the wings for opening act Danny White to hit the road.


The Raelettes mug, some more cheerfully than others :


That mixed crowd, very well-behaved. Most of them kept to their sides of the pit even without the rope between black and white sections :


Handlers escort Ray from the stage after his set. No incidents reported, everyone had a lovely time, and, more importantly to Sax, paid to see Ray instead of staying away in protest of integration. Another triumph for music.