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New bus unveiled to celebrate the Bristol Bus Boycott anniversary

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To mark this milestone moment, a specially designed double-decker bus by Bristol illustrator and animator Alissa Thaler was revealed, following a 'Drive for Change' design competition run by First West of England, Bristol Ideas, Creative Connex and Curiosity UnLtd.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Bristol Bus Boycott, First Bus unveiled a new commemorative double-decker bus.

Local businesses, community groups, residents and city leaders came together to celebrate the anniversary of the four-month boycott, which took place in 1963 and was initiated following the introduction of a new rule by bus operators of the time that banned Black and Asian people from becoming drivers and conductors. It was inspired by the events of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, in which Rosa Parks and other activists refused to give up their seats in protest against the policy of racial segreation on public transport.

The new bus was revealed at a launch event on 30 August at Lawrence Hill Bus Station, followed by a ceremony and Caribbean brunch at St Mary Redcliffe Church, with guest speakers, a gospel choir, poetry, short films and a replica protest. A new set of stained-glass windows featuring the boycotters was also unveiled as part of the celebrations at St Mary Redcliffe Church.

The new double-decker bus was designed by Bristol illustrator and animator Alissa Thaler, who was announced as the winner of First West of England’s competition to create a design to mark the anniversary of the Bristol Bus Boycott. Her winning design features the colours of the Jamaican flag in recognition of Guy Bailey, who was refused a job as a bus driver during the boycott.

‘The Bristol Bus Boycott is a locally, nationally and internationally significant moment which deserves to be recognised, understood and celebrated by all of us, both in Bristol and beyond,’ says Naomi Miller, acting director of Bristol Ideas. ‘It was a moment when ordinary Bristolians took a stand and changed the world around them. We can’t wait to see this beautiful bus sharing such an important story as it drives through the streets of our city, and hope it brings the public’s attention to this pivotal event in Bristol’s history.’

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