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How the Bristol bus boycott changed UK civil rights

Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, discusses the 1963 Bristol bus boycott – a protest few may have heard of, but which proved to be a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. And: Waad al-Kateab, the director of the documentary For Sama, on life in Aleppo

The 1963 Bristol protest took place after 18-year-old Guy Bailey was turned away from a job interview at the state-owned Bristol Omnibus Company. A manager told him: “We don’t employ black people.” The policy, an open secret in the city, was entirely legal. Inspired by events including the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, a boycott of the the whole bus network was organised. After four months, the bus company relented. The victory proved to be a watershed moment and a step on the road towards the UK’s first laws against racial discrimination.

As part of Black History month, Anushka Asthana talks to Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol and the first black mayor of a British city, about the boycott. He questions why, given the significance of the protest, it isn’t more widely known.

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