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Inspiration August 10, 2020

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Heard this podcast last year from the Guardian during Black History Month on the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott and an interview with Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol and notably, and arguably shockingly given it is now 2020, the first black mayor of a British city.
It’s a story of workers and working class people and how racist discrimination as this piece last week in the Guardian, which interviews Roy Hackett who originally from Jamaica was one of those who organised the Boycott, notes was entwined in unions as much as employers and the broader society:

At the time, the Bristol Omnibus Company was notorious for racial discrimination in recruitment. Hackett says labourers from the colonies and former colonies were allowed to “wash the buses at night”, but barred from the better-paid work on the bus crews. This segregation was not only upheld by the bus company, but also vigorously defended by the local branch of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, which did not want its members to lose jobs to immigrants.


Alongside four other men – Owen Henry, Audley Evans, Prince Brown and Paul Stephenson – … marshalled the 3,000-strong Caribbean community into a boycott. The idea was partly inspired by the 1955 Montgomery action, in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. Henry made the connection with African Americans having to sit at the “back of the bus”, which in the UK was where conductors stood.

But the struggle worked. With support from a range of people and groups – Tony Benn, students at the UofB, anti-racist groups and so on the energy and determination of the Boycott organisers paid off.

It took months of disruption, but, finally, on 28 August – the day Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC – the union and the company caved to the boycotters’ demands: the colour bar at the bus company was lifted.

And there’s talk that perhaps a statue to replace that of Colston might not be inappropriate. I like his response in the article. But I like this even more… Seeing the Black Lives Matter protests gave him hope, he says, because he “wants the younger people to fight it. We fought for what we have now. Let’s push it further.”

I’d love to use that on the masthead of the site sometime. Because it sums up all our shared struggles. What do others think?


1. EWI - August 10, 2020

I agree on the last. It’s a great rallying call.

Also, I’ve seen up close – as have others here, no doubt – what happens when trade unions lose their committed activist base, and instead get corrupted by out-of-control nepotism, ladder-climbers and double-jobbing apparatchiks from conservative political parties. It’s grim, and it shows the lack of coordination among radicals that this has become the accepted norm.

Liked by 1 person

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