Celebrating Paul Stephenson, OBE
Paul Stephenson gained a Diploma in Youth and Community Work from Westhill College of Education, Birmingham, in 1962 and then moved to Bristol to work as a youth officer for Bristol City Council, becoming the city's first black social worker.
As a young social worker, in 1963 Stephenson led a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company, protesting against its refusal to employ Black or Asian drivers or conductors. After a 60-day boycott supported by thousands of Bristolians, the company revoked its colour bar in August. In 1964 Stephenson achieved national fame when he refused to leave a public house until he was served, resulting in a trial on a charge of failing to leave a licensed premises. His campaigns were instrumental in paving the way for the first Race Relations Act, in 1965. Stephenson is a Freeman of the City of Bristol and was awarded an OBE in 2009.
Stephenson achieved national prominence when he refused to leave a public house, the Bay Horse pub in Bristol, without being served. The bar manager reportedly told Stephenson, "We don’t want you black people in here – you are a nuisance." Stephenson was arrested and charged with failing to leave a licensed premises. The case attracted media attention, and the Bristol Evening Post ran the story with the headline "West Indian leader made a fool of himself." At his trial in a magistrate's court, prosecutors alleged that he had behaved aggressively, but witness accounts refuted this claim. The case was dismissed and the barman was dismissed by his employers.