Remembering Roy Hackett MBE 1928 – 2022

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig smiles in front of trees and bushes.
Deputy Mayor Asher Craig

Many plaudits have been written about Roy Hackett since his passing, so there is no need for me to repeat what we already know about this humble, resilient and at times very funny human being. When Roy spoke, people listened and we saw this in action as he played a pivotal role in the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott which paved the way for the first Race Relations Act of 1965.

I first met Roy Hackett, when I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Bristol Council for Racial Equality, in the late 1980’s. I was representing St Paul’s Community Association, now better known as the Malcolm X Community Centre.

Roy was always elegantly dressed, – suit, tie, and that recognisable trilby hat. Roy was sat next to Owen Henry and also in the meeting was Prince Brown, Barbara Dettering, Olive Osbourne, Shivranjan Singh (the Chair of BCRE), Bhupi Bowri, Carmen Beckford and Fred Walcot. They were amongst many other leading black and Asian race equality activists and civil rights campaigners, who paved the way and passed on the mantle for people like me to step up and be counted. I was by far the youngest on the Board, but it was the best school I went to as my journey as a young black activist and agitator kicked in.

Roy Hackett stands on the left side of the photo with Asher Craig on the left they are holding a flag reading Celebrating the Windrush Generation. In the background you can see the moat and steps of Bristol City Hall.
Roy Hackett with deputy mayor Asher Craig on Windrush Day 2020

Today we marked the 60th Anniversary of Jamaica Independence at City Hall. For as long as I can remember, Roy always attended this annual event that has become a staple in the Civic Diary. He was a proud Jamaican and today his place in hoisting the flag alongside the Lord Mayor, was taken by his grandson and great-grandson. A fitting tribute was paid to Roy by the Lord Mayor of Bristol and in time this city will pay its own tribute to this Son of Jamaica, and proud citizen of Bristol. This year’s diamond jubilee celebration was observed under the theme ‘Reigniting a Nation for Greatness’, Roy was an example of this countries true greatness.

Roy was already a living legend so his legacy, is already documented but there is so much more to this great man than what we hear about him in the media or in books. Roy was a husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and colleague who continued to fight against racism and inequality until his passing.  Many of us will continue his work and many young people will be inspired by Roy’s story and will pick up the mantle as we continue to strive towards the elimination of racial discrimination in both this City and around the world.

Throughout my own journey in this city, I have had the privilege to have known and stood on the shoulder of many great giants – black activists, campaigners, and pioneers – Mr Roy Hackett M.B.E, is one those giants. Thank you for your service to this city Roy – your legacy will live on.

Deputy Mayor Asher Craig