THIS DAY IN HISTORY: 29th April 1963By Amma Fosuah Poku
4/30/2012 12:27:35 PM -
The West Indian Development Council (WDI) announced the start of the Bristol Bus Boycott, in response to racial discrimination by the Bristol Omnibus Company (BOC) who refused to employ black people to work on the buses.
In the early sixties the practice of racial discrimination was widespread in Bristol, a city in south west England. Trade unions were in the forefront of discrimination, threatening strike action if non-whites were employed on buses
Unhappy about the discrimination they faced four men, Roy Hackett, Owen Henry, Audley Evans and Prince Brown, formed the WDI. They subsequently hooked up with Paul Stephenson who was of west Africa origin, seeking his support in campaigning and organising against the racism in employment on the buses.
The WDI proved that African Caribbean people were being discriminated against when the BOC cancelled an interview on learning that the candidate was black.
Following this discriminatory act the WDI announced the bus boycott at a press conference, and on the following day, 30th April, black people in the city boycotted the buses. The boycott galvanised support from sympathetic whites including students at Bristol university and Tony Benn, the Member of Parliament for Bristol.
The bus boycott lasted four months, until 28th August, when the BOC announced that there would be no more discrimination in the employment of bus crews.
The following five minute clip provides an insight to views at the time of the boycott:
"Always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone's head. They are fighting to win material benefits to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children." Amilcar Cabral