Racism on the Road: The Oral History of Black Artists Touring in the Segregated South

Billboard spoke with Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Booker T. Jones and other legendary acts who faced extreme racism to bring their music to the American South in the 1950s and ’60s.

One day in the early ’50s, three jazz legends were on a road trip from East St. Louis to California. Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Max Roach had eaten all the chicken they’d brought, so they stopped in Oklahoma for carry-out sandwiches. But the restaurant refused to serve Mingus. So he returned to the car and, speaking heatedly with his colleagues, threatened to blow up the joint. Davis was more circumspect. The trumpeter cautioned the bassist to sit down, shut up and not “end up going to jail over your loud mouth,” as he recalled in Miles: The Autobiography.

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