Two racial equality campaigners honoured at Bristol University

Paul Stephenson leading the Bristol bus boycott in 1963 Credit: Archive

Two men who had a significant impact on the profile of black people have been honoured in a ceremony to mark Black History Month.

Two rooms have been named after Paul Stephenson and George Odlum, see below to find out about their remarkable achievements.

Paul Stephenson

Paul Stephenson led the campaign to overturn a ban on recruiting non-white staff on Bristol's buses.

The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 arose when the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ to employ Afro Caribbean or Asian bus crews.

It was a time when there was widespread racial discrimination against non-white people in housing and employment.

Paul Stephenson was then working as a youth worker and led a boycott of the company's buses which lasted four months.

The company eventually backed down, and the boycott drew national attention to the issue of racial discrimination. It was considered to have been influential in the passing of the Race Relations Act in 1965.

George Odlum

George Odlum was the first black president of a University Students Union anywhere in the UK.

George Odlum at University

He arrived in England in the mid 1950s, studying English at Bristol University. He quickly became part of the University community through his work at the Student Union, and was elected as President of the Union in 1958.

After leaving Bristol, George went on to take a second degree at Magdalen College, Oxford before returning to St Lucia in 1961.

There, he immersed himself in a political career, holding the position of Vice President in the 1960s, Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 1990s, and Ambassador to the United Nations in 1995.

George died in 2003, aged 69. One of the rooms in the Students’ Union was renamed in his memory.