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Dr Paul Stephenson display opens at City Hall

Ten banners on the life and work of Dr Paul Stephenson, one of Bristol’s most iconic civil rights leaders, have been unveiled at City Hall.
 
The display, opened by Dr Stephenson and Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, charts the life of the former youth worker, from growing up in Essex to coming to Bristol in the early 1960’s and his pivotal role in the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963.
 
A major part of the display is a retelling of the events that led to Dr Stephenson, Roy Hackett, Owen Henry, Audley Evans, Prince Brown and others to call for a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company, when Guy Bailey was refused a job because of the colour of his skin, and the change their actions brought about.
 
The boycott drew national attention and shone a light on racial discrimination in Britain during the four months it lasted. Acting as spokesperson for the West Indian Development Council, Dr Stephenson and those who supported the boycott, had a profound impact on the future of the Bristol Omnibus Company and the introduction of the Race Relations Act 1965.
 
Speaking at the launch, Dr Stephenson said: “Never did I think that one day there would be displays and exhibitions telling people about me or the things we did during those difficult times. I am pleased though to see that the stand we took and the fight that we fought is still remembered and shared. Where once I was the one fighting, today I look to our current leaders, and the next generation of Bristolians, to carry on our message of equality and fraternity. I am delighted that Marvin has provided this space for children and adults to come and view the display and to learn about that message.”
 
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “West Indian Development Council’s boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company is a key part of our city’s history and Dr Stephenson is an inspiration to many. His actions to challenge prejudice and improve opportunities for young black people have positively touched so many lives in Bristol and nationally. This display tells his story. We have come a long way, but there is much that is still very relevant to our society and from which we can learn.

The display is in the main foyer of City Hall and is free for the public to visit. It will be here until Wednesday 8 March.