What was the last major racially-segregated event in the US?
February 18, 2014 6:04 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know what the last segregated event was in the US ? I'm curious about "major events", say around 10,000 people.

A friend of mine asked this question, and I'm really curious, so I thought I'd query the hivemind.

"On 11 February 1964, the Beatles' first US concert took place, at Washington Coliseum.
Apparently the first Beatles American tour had a rider that they wouldn't play any segregated gigs.

From Wikipedia: The Beatles played a concert at the Gator Bowl on their first American Tour on September 11, 1964. It is notable because once the Beatles found out that the concert was going to be segregated, they refused to play there unless they allowed the audience to be desegregated, as there was no segregation in Europe. Paul McCartney went on record about their disapproval of the situation and their lack of understanding of segregation in the first place. John Lennon said, "We never play to segregated audiences and we aren't going to start now. I'd sooner lose our appearance money." They did end up playing to a desegregated audience.

So by 1964 there were still events that were segregated in the South. Any idea what the last major segregated events were?

I'm asking because I'm wondering how many European acts were performing in the 1950's and 60's to segregated audiences in the US?"
posted by dubold to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Not music but I would guess that college football games in the South were segregated for a long time. This mentions an all-white crowd for an Alabama-USC game in 1970(!).
posted by ghharr at 7:22 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Answer the question, don't be smug jerks about this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this fits, but the New York Times reported in 1990 that ten counties in Georgia held segregated school proms. It's still a big issue as of last year.
posted by Smallpox at 8:15 AM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

When I moved to GA in 1989 Forsyth County (one county N of where I was living) was in the news due to the fact that county itself was just integrating. There were apparently no minorities residing in the county at all.
posted by COD at 8:41 AM on February 18, 2014

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 spoke to this issue. So I think 1964 was the turning point where audiences could not be segregated.

There were musical acts that would play segregated audiences and those that wouldn't. For example, James Brown played a segregated show at Bell Auditorium (Augusta, GA) in May 1964. On the other hand, Duke Ellington had it in all his contracts that he would not play segregated audiences.
posted by 99percentfake at 9:28 AM on February 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are 2 kinds of segregation: de jure and de facto. De jure segregation is the kind that happened by law (think Jim Crow laws with separate facilities). De facto segregation is the kind that happens "in fact" but isn't explicitly endorsed by policy. De facto segregation is still fairly rampant. Yes, the Civil Rights Act (1964) made de jure segregation illegal, but of course as with many things, people kept doing what they were doing and it is up to the legal system to actually challenge a discriminatory policy.

I'm not sure if you're asking how many acts played to segregated audiences or more generally when large scale segregated events ended.

You might say legally endorsed segregation ended in 1964, but whether a certain venue kept their audiences segregated after that I'm not sure. Public schools are quite segregated to this day due in part to segregated housing. I guess this isn't really an "event" as you had in mind. And I'm not trying to be smug, but your question kind of assumed segregation was a thing of the past and my point is, it's not. It has taken on a different form maybe.
posted by kochenta at 10:41 AM on February 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

There were probably church-related events (e.g., tent-revivals but in larger venues) which were largely segregated by race in the South.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2014

There are still a lot of de facto segregated events in the South. Segregated proms have been mentioned.

Growing up in New Orleans (90's/2000's, but I'm pretty sure this is still a thing), I remember a lot of general tension and hand-wringing about, for example, hip hop artists playing Jazz Fest, the demographics of ticketholders for those days, and whether it was or was not desirable to attend, as a white person. I remember once in high school asking my parents if I could go to Essence Fest (a big local hip hop/R&B music festival) to see like Eryka Badu or The Fugees or something, and being told in sort of veiled terms that it wasn't the proper venue for a teenaged white girl.

It is still very common to see de facto segregated bars in New York City of all places, so I really don't think it's meaningful to ask about de facto segregation at large events in the South post-Jim Crow. It happens everywhere, at events large and small.

In terms of de jure segregation, The Civil Rights Act spelled the end of that sort of thing. 1965 or maybe 1966 would be the last year that large events could legally be whites-only.
posted by Sara C. at 11:48 AM on February 18, 2014

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