Bristol Bus Boycott leaders given Freedom of the City of Bristol

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The leaders of the Bristol Bus Boycott have been given the Freedom of the City of Bristol today (13 December).

Roy Hackett OBE, Guy Reid-Bailey OBE, Barbara Dettering, Owen Henry, Audley Evans, and Prince Brown have all been given the honour, which is the highest civic honour a council can bestow on a citizen.

All the honours have been awarded posthumously with the exception of Guy Reid-Bailey and Barbara Dettering.

The group were responsible for organising a four-month boycott of Bristol's buses after the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to hire any black or Asian drivers or conductors.

It was sparked in response to Guy Reid-Bailey being denied a job at the company.

Guy Reid-Bailey OBE Credit: ITV

The boycott saw black communities and white allies refuse to use the city's bus network.

Eventually, the firm backed down and its ‘colour bar’ was quashed on the same day Martin Luther King gave his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech.

The boycott drew the prominence of racial discrimination to national attention, ultimately leading to the Race Relations Act of 1965 – a landmark piece of legislation which legally prohibited racially discriminatory policies in public.

Speaking about this, deputy mayor of Bristol Asher Craig said: "The Bristol Bus Boycott had a lasting impact not only in our city, but across the UK, as it drew political attention to the treatment black people were facing, which ultimately led to the Race Relations Act – a landmark law that went some way to outlawing racial discrimination.

The boycott saw people in the city take a stand against the bus company's racist policies

"Leading the boycott took tremendous courage. While the boycott is now rightly seen as what it was – a peaceful protest aiming to end racist employment practices – we shouldn’t forget the level of opposition they faced at the time.

"Bristol has a proud history of peaceful protects – such as the Chartists, the suffragettes, and the Bristol Bus Boycott. All these protests have led to sorely-needed, positive change and changed Bristol for the better. I’m very proud to put forward plans to recognise this.

"Awarding the leading members of the boycott will hopefully reiterate how proud Bristol is of them for standing up to injustice.

"I’m particularly pleased that Barbara Dettering will be given this honour. She played an important role in organising the boycott which is often overlooked, so I hope this will show her how much we appreciate her work and her lifetime of service to her community."