UK version of Rosa Parks

Roy Hackett Icon

He was born on September 19, 1928 in Kingston (Jamaica) and died on August 3, 2022 in Great Britain

Lurell Roy Hackett

Years of relentless struggle for racial equality earned him the Order of the British Empire in the officer ranks in 2020.

In 1961, a local newspaper in Bristol revealed that the main city bus company in the south of England hired only black Caribbean and Asian people as cleaners or workshop or dining room workers. But not as a driver or a collector.

This was decided, by resolution, by representatives of a transport union, on the other hand, and with great cynicism, campaigning against apartheid in South Africa.

This first scam hardly caused any stir.

By 1962, the wife of Roy Hackett, a Jamaican from Bristol, had applied for a job as a driver, which was rejected despite meeting the requirements. It was then that her husband approached other compatriots to form a committee.

He preferred to wait a few months while he was organised. By April 29, 1963, he called a press conference in which he announced the boycott of public buses in Bristol, inspired by the example set in the United States eight years earlier by Rosa Parks.

The initiative had a national impact, due, among other things, to the fact that Tony Bain, Labor MP for the Bristol South District, gave him immediate support. His major ranks – and future prime minister, Harold Wilson – did the same thing shortly after.

Several months of sustained pressure had an effect: on August 28, 1963, the same day that Martin Luther King led the famous March on Washington, the Bristol Bus Company called for an end to discrimination against black candidates choosing driver or collector positions. declare.

Two years later, the episode had political consequences: Wilson succeeded in getting the British Parliament to approve the first race relations law in 1965—two others would follow it—that banned any form of discrimination in public places throughout the United Kingdom. be prohibited.

For Hackett it was also the end of a nightmare that began in 1952 after moving from his native Jamaica, where he was barely making a living as an insurance broker. Before settling permanently in Bristol, he lived in Wolverhampton, London and Liverpool.

In all those places he faced frivolous and legalized racism. As The Daily Telegraph recalls, “According to legislation at the time, ethnic minorities could be restricted from housing, employment and access to public places. People reading “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs” on public streets It was legal to hang signs.

Such an environment is creating awareness in Hackett. It remained only to find the reason that gave rise to the action. It was discrimination against his wife when he wanted to run public buses in Bristol.

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