The Rt Hon John Bercow MP commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Race Relations Act who spoke of its necessity in changing the old mind sets and admitted his own slow conversion to its value – good for his honesty – and was followed up by a heart wrenching account from probably the very first activist in Britain Paul Stephenson.
Paul Stephenson OBE spoke of several harrowing stories of the discrimination he along with others suffered back in the 1950’s/60’s which led to the Race Relations Act in 1965. He led a 60 day boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company in 1963 for their policy on not employing Black and Asian people. The company had to withdraw its ‘colour-bar’ policy and the first non-white employee Raghbir Singh was recruited as a bus conductor in 1963.
In 1964 Paul was asked to drink quickly and leave a pub but he refused to leave on those grounds. He was arrested for failing to leave a licenced premises and was tried in a magistrate’s court. The case was dismissed.
Hence the Race Relations Act came into force in 1965.
A few words were then spoken by Simon Woolley the director of Operation Black Vote in appreciation of the event and he called for photographs with the stalwarts of this activism who all came to witness this important event.
Anil Bhanot OBE