St. Pauls has changed Bristol and Britain forever.
St. Pauls is a suburb of Bristol in England where most of the city’s African-Caribbean migrants were confined to when racial discrimination was entirely legal. There were shops that would not serve black people and many suffered violence at the hands of Teddy Boys. Almost all of them could only find low paid jobs and struggled to find housing. Some of the boarding houses displayed signs in the window reading: 'No Irish, no blacks, no dogs.’
There were around 3,000 African-Caribbean migrants by 1962 in Bristol. Most of them arrived from the Caribbean after World War II with a British passport and full right of entry and settlement to the UK (1948 British Nationality Act) .
In 1963, Guy Bailey walked to the Bristol Omnibus company for his job interview and was told the vacancy had been filled. As his friend had called the same office an hour earlier and been told there were plenty of jobs, he decided to protest. The General Manager then said to him, "There is no point in having an interview; we don’t employ blacks.”
That friend was Paul Stephenson, a bold, young guy who started the Bristol Bus Boycott on the 30th April 1963 with a press conference in his St. Pauls' flat. He told the local media what had happened to Bailey and so began the nation’s first black-led campaign against racial discrimination. The propaganda immediately attracted attention: high-profile English politicians gave their support, as well as diplomats from Caribbean territories who also condemned the bus company.
On the 28th August 1963, the same day that Martin Luther King made his 'I have a dream' speech, the bus company announced the end of its discriminatory employment policy: “without regard to race, colour or creed”. The colour bar was lifted. They won!
The boycott led to the passing of the UK’s Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968, which banned racial discrimination in public, in employment, and housing.
My aim in doing this photography project is to remember and celebrate the British version of the American civil rights movement. The Bristol Bus Boycott, and St. Pauls are largely forgotten though they have changed Bristol and Britain forever.