Paul Stephenson OBE was born in Essex in 1937. He was the only Black child at his school and was one of the few Black children in his area growing up. This photo was taken during Paul's national service with the RAF from 1953-1960.
Stephenson moved to Bristol in 1962 and became the first Black social worker in the city, working with the city's growing West Indian community. It was in Bristol that he became a civil rights campaigner.
The Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ Black people in the 1950s and early 1960s. Some individuals worked in 'behind the scenes' jobs, such as mechanics and cleaners, but were not allowed to be presented as the face of the company.
Stephenson led a boycott of the company, known as the 'Bristol Bus Boycott' for 60 days, supported by thousands of Bristolians, forcing the Bristol Omnibus Company to revoke their colour bar in August 1963. The following year he gained national fame when he refused to leave a pub until he was served. He was charged with failing to leave a licensed premises and was tried in a magistrate's court. The case was dismissed and the barman was dismissed by his employers.
Paul Stephenson's campaigns were instrumental in paving the way for the first Race Relations Act, in 1965. He is a Freeman of the City of Bristol and was awarded an OBE in 2009.
High quality glossy print. Frame not included. Depending on size chosen, some parts of image shown may be cropped.
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