Deputy Mayor Asher Craig spoke in Bristol City Council’s extraordinary council meeting today, as Guy Bailey, Barbara Dettering, Roy Hackett, Owen Henry, Prince Brown, and Audley Evans were awarded Freedom of the City for their work leading the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963. Paul Stephenson has already been conferred with Freedom of the City for his work.
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Freedom of the City is a rare honour bestowed upon people who have served in an exceptional capacity in contributing to life in Bristol and beyond.
Today’s recipients are not just being honoured for the prominent role they played in the Bus Boycott Campaign, but also for their many years of community service and continuous fight for race equality for Bristol’s black communities.
There were many Black and Asian people denied a position with the Bristol Omnibus Company due to their “colour bar” and who played a part in the Bus Boycott campaign back in 1963, many of whom remain unknown. But it was the campaign led by Paul Stephenson, Guy Bailey, Dr Roy Hackett, Audley Evans, Owen Henry, Barbara Dettering, and Prince Brown that brought about the actions which ultimately led to the 1965 & 1968 Race Relations Acts – which outlawed discrimination in public places
The boycott would of course not have been successful without the participation and willpower of the whole community but sadly, it is not feasible to bestow the honour on everyone who played a role in the boycott or was a victim of the Bristol Omnibus Company’s racist discrimination.
But I want to acknowledge people like Ena Hackett who was denied a job , alongside many other people (who remain unknown) who marched, boycotted and stood shoulder to shoulder with Bristol’s Black & Asian communities until the colour bar was removed.
I had the privilege to have known and worked with most of today’s recipients – all of whom were on the board of Bristol Council for Racial Equality which was created off the back of the 1968 legislation. I was a member of BCRE board in the 1990’s and little did I know at the time that I was in the privileged company of history makers.
So much has been written about the Bus Boycott over the years and the role that todays honourees played and the time does not allow me to reel off all their accomplishments
Last month the Lord Mayor of Bristol presented Bristol Boycott Campaigner Mr Guy Bailey a letter of apology on behalf of Bristol City Council for the hurt & racism he experienced when he was refused a job at the Bristol Omnibus Company. An apology that was well overdue
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol & I are grateful to the Bristol Lord Mayor Paula O’Rourke and Party Group Leaders for agreeing to bestow this honour on our elders many of whom are no longer with us, in recognition of their fight for racial equality & justice nearly 60 years ago. A fight that we continue to this day.
Considering the lasting impact that the campaign had not only for race equality in Bristol, but across the UK, awarding the leading members of the boycott the Bristol’s highest civic honour is a fitting way for our City to show our appreciation.