In London, racial integration of bus conductors and drivers began in the 1950s. This was not, however, the case in Bristol, England. Paul Stephenson, a young black social worker who moved to Bristol and taught classes at night, joined the ranks of other young activists Roy Hackett, Owen Henry, Audley Evans and Prince Brown--who had recently formed the West Indian Development Council--to address the racially discrimination blighting the city.
In April, 1963, 18-year-old Gus Bailey went to the Bristol Omnibus Company to apply for a job and was turned away by the receptionist because of his race. Paul Stephenson had carefully called the day before to make sure they were hiring and had set up the interview for his pupil, Bailey. They would not interview him, however, because he was black. Stephenson, a close follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, wanted to use the discrimination at the bus company as a way to demonstrate the inequalities within Bristol, and call people to action. He wanted to stage a Bus Boycott in Bristol, England, styled after the one in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stephenson was strongly influenced by Dr. King and others within the US civil rights movement, and like them he and his fellow boycotters emphasised nonviolence and peaceful protest.
The boycott spread across the city, gathering support from students at Bristol University, high-profile politicians, neighbours and residents.
On August 28, 1963—the SAME DAY as the March on Washington and Dr. King's famous speech—the Bristol Omnibus Company announced full integration of its buses. In September of that year, they hired their first non-white bus conductor.