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UK civil rights campaigner Roy Hackett dies at 93

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UK civil rights campaigner Roy Hackett dies at 93

The Jamaican-born activist fought for the civil rights of minorities in the southern city of Bristol in the 1960s.

Prominent British civil rights activist Roy Hackett has died at the age of 93.

Hackett fought for the civil rights of minorities in the southern British city of Bristol in the 1960s and coordinated the famous Bristol bus boycott against the ban on the employment of minorities as bus drivers and conductors .

“Very sad to hear of the death of Bristol civil rights legend Roy Hackett, organizer of the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott and founder of the St. Paul Carnival. My thoughts at this difficult time are with Roy’s family and friends,” Bristol Mayor Paula O. Rourke said with a gesture.

Labour politician David Lamy paid tribute to Hackett on Twitter, calling him an “icon”. “The rights we have today are a direct consequence of heroes like Roy Hackett,” he tweeted.

British author Aisha Thomas thanks Hackett for “paving the way”. “Our elders. They fought for us. I will keep fighting,” she tweeted.

Born in Jamaica, Hackett moved to the UK in the 1950s, settling in a port city with a large West Indian population.

Hackett is a co-founder of the Commonwealth Coordinating Council, one of Bristol’s main representative bodies for West Indians, and which also set up the popular annual St Paul’s Carnival.

In the early 1960s, transportation authorities generally prohibited the hiring of minorities based on skin color and country of origin.

In 1963, Hackett and other activists Paul Stevenson, Owen Henry and Guy Bailey launched the Bristol bus boycott, and many minorities successfully boycotted bus services in the city.

The popular action that drew national media attention forced Bristol Consolidated Bus to change its employment policy and set the stage for the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968. The boycott is the first of its kind in the UK.

Hackett also founded the West Indian Parents and Friends Association, which served as a center for West Indian immigrants to build their lives in a city fraught with racism and prejudice.

In an interview with BBC News before his death, he said Bristol was a difficult place to live and it was difficult for a black person to get a job.

Hackett said: “I was looking for housing along Ashley Road and found a house without a card that said ‘No gypsies, no dogs, no Irish, no people of colour’ ‘.”

“The lady opened the door, saw me, slammed the door without saying a word. It was a struggle and people were blatantly racist,” he added.
Hackett was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2019 and a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in 2020 for his work in eliminating and eradicating racism in Bristol.

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