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"Your two o'clock appointment is here, and he's black."
August 27, 2013 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Fifty years ago, another bus-centric race dispute took place. Despite "Just 12 miles away in Bath, black crews were working on buses. London Transport recruitment officers had travelled to Barbados specifically to invite workers to come to the capital" ...non-whites found it impossible to obtain employment working on buses in Bristol, England.

More on Wikipedia, and BBC TV interviews from the time.

The dispute partially led to the 1965 Race Relations Act, which was found to be ineffective and strengthened by further acts in 1968 and 1976.
posted by Wordshore (11 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Possibly not unrelated: Bristol and the legacies of the slave trade
posted by dng at 7:44 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Utterly fascinating, thanks for sharing! This made me scowl and smile at the same time:
When he went for one labouring job, he was told the company did not employ "Africans". Hackett protested indignantly that he was Jamaican - if he was going to be discriminated against, the least they could do was get his nationality right.
posted by the cydonian at 7:46 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, shamefully, I'd never heard of this. What absolute heroes these men were.
posted by dng at 7:47 AM on August 27, 2013


This should be taught in British schools.
posted by iotic at 8:01 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


"And at a time of virtually full employment, employers like London Transport and the National Health Service had actively sought their labour."

This "racism" could also be seen as a political form of class struggle. First world labor unions have never been fond of economic migration from third-world countries: It is imperialistic exploitation - which this would seem to have been. It's not like the British government was trying to promote diversity. They were looking for a source of unskilled, low-wage labor.
posted by three blind mice at 8:03 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was a really good episode of the BBC Witness podcast about this, which appears to have completely disappeared from the online archive but that I distinctly remember hearing.

It's a fantastic story, and I'm glad it's getting more recognition.
posted by Katemonkey at 8:07 AM on August 27, 2013


There was a really good episode of the BBC Witness podcast about this, which appears to have completely disappeared from the online archive but that I distinctly remember hearing.

It's here.
posted by Wordshore at 8:14 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]




This "racism" could also be seen as a political form of class struggle.

Yes, I think the boycott really needs to be considered in relation to its British post-war context, which in some ways makes the parallels with US history which immediately spring to mind unhelpful.

But racism-for-racism's-sake-alone is certainly a part of this context (c.f. 1958 Notting Hill race riots for instance.)
posted by Bare Ruined Choirs at 8:23 AM on August 27, 2013


"What we always forget is that the over­whelming bulk of the British proletariat does not live in Britain, but in Asia and Africa."

"It is quite common for an Indian coolie's leg to be thinner than the average Englishman's arm. And there is nothing racial in this, for well-fed members of the same races are of normal physique; it is due to simple starvation."

George Orwell: Not Counting Niggers (July 1939).
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:37 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Paul O'Grady (aka Lily Savage) did a two-part thing on British working class history for the BBC just and he meets some of the people behind the Bristol bus boycott.
posted by Abiezer at 3:23 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


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