Bristol Church’s tribute to Edward Colston is set to be replaced with a photo of the 1963 bus boycott

Photo of 1963 bus boycott will replace stained glass tribute to slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol church

  • St Mary Redcliff’s Church agreed to remove Colston’s tribute two years ago
  • A picture of a 1963 bus boycott for civil rights in Bristol will replace the old sign
  • Paul Stephenson and the West Indian Development Council led the boycott

A photo from a 1963 civil rights bus boycott will replace a stained glass window honoring slave trader Edward Colston in a Bristol church.

St Mary Redcliff Church agreed to remove four stained glass panels dedicated the Colston two years ago after his statue was toppled.

The window was temporarily replaced with plain panels and the church invited the public to submit new designs in a competition.

The old panels made up the lower part of the north transept window – known as The Good Samaritan – which depicted the Christian story where Colston took his motto.

The new sign celebrates the Bristol Bus Boycott, which, according to artist Ealish Swift, “paved the way for the Race Relations Act 1965, with Jesus as another protester and radical”.

A Bristol Bus Boycott photo from 1963 (above) will replace a stained glass tribute to slave trader Edward Colston in a Bristol church

The four original Victorian windows in St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, which were replaced with plain glass following the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020

The four original Victorian windows in St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, which were replaced with plain glass following the Black Lives Matter protest in 2020

The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 grew out of the Bristol Omnibus Company’s refusal to employ returning or Asian bus crews in the city.

The campaign was led by youth worker Paul Stephenson and the West Indian Development Council which lasted four months until the service backed down and rescinded the ban.

The grade I listed church was built over three decades during the medieval age and was described by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 as “the finest, finest and most famous parish church in England”.

Members of the public were invited and encouraged to submit designs to replace the old stained glass tribute by Edward Colston

Members of the public were invited and encouraged to submit designs to replace the old stained glass tribute by Edward Colston

Bristol-based artist and young doctor Ealish Swift won the competition but was unable to reveal the design as she was undergoing surgery.

Bristol-based artist and young doctor Ealish Swift won the competition but was unable to reveal the design as she was undergoing surgery.

A church spokesperson said it launched the competition as part of an ongoing process of reflection and action to ensure that today’s church building echoes the stated values ​​of St Mary Redcliffe and is welcoming to all.

The entrance theme, “And who is my neighbour?” explored the meaning of what it means to be a good Samaritan.

Bristol-based artist and young doctor Ealish Swift won the competition but was unable to reveal the design as she was undergoing surgery.

One of the final models that could have replaced Colston's tribute

One of the final models that could have replaced Colston’s tribute

Another design that was submitted.  The Grade I listed church was built over three decades in medieval times and was described by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 as 'the finest, finest and most famous parish church in England' .

Another design that was submitted. The Grade I listed church was built over three decades in medieval times and was described by Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 as ‘the finest, finest and most famous parish church in England’ .

Ms Swift said: “I am deeply honored to have my design chosen for this wonderful space that means so much to me.

“I look forward to working with the amazing Steve Clare to bring my ideas to life.

“I’m thrilled that my design seemed to resonate so much with the local community and I hope everyone will come visit me to see the final piece and experience all that this wonderful church and community has to offer!”

Black Lives Matter protesters in June 2020 ripped up a statue and dumped it in Bristol Harbor

Black Lives Matter protesters in June 2020 ripped up a statue and dumped it in Bristol Harbor

The winning design is on display in a small temporary exhibition in St Mary Redcliffe until 9 October 2022 and next year will be recreated in stained glass.

Parish Priest Dan Tyndall said: “The winning design is powerful and imaginative, managing to resonate with contemporary issues while standing the test of time.

“Ealish’s concept was very popular with visitors to the church and will fit perfectly into the current Victorian window.”

The temporary exhibition in the church will be presented from September 22 to October 9.

How the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 led to the Race Relations Act that made the employer color bar illegal

The Bristol bus boycott of 1963 began when the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ ethnic minority bus crews in the city.

Around 3,000 West Indians lived in Britain in the 1960s after millions of Commonwealth workers moved to the UK after World War II.

Many of them have created clubs, associations and churches. However, the group faced discrimination when the government barred ethnic minorities from working as bus crews.

In protest, four young West Indian men – Owen Henry, Roy Hackett, Audley Evans and Prince Brown – set up an action group called the West Indian Development Council to fight against racial discrimination.

Their cause has garnered local and national support, with far-left local MP Tony Benn firmly behind the cause. He got in touch with the then leader, Harold Wilson, and persuaded him to put the weight of the party behind him.

Years after the campaign that led to the establishment of the Labor government, the Labor government passed the Race Relations Act in 1965, which made “racial discrimination unlawful in public places”.

Three years later, the party passed the Race Relations Act 1968 which extended anti-racism laws to housing and employment.

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