Bursary named after Bristol bus boycott activist Paul Stephenson launched

Paul Stephenson
Image caption As a young social worker in 1963 Paul Stephenson led a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company

A bursary named after a civil rights activist has been launched to help students from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

The University of the West of England (UWE) said the new Paul Stephenson bursary would give five students £2,000 each “to help with their living costs”.

Mr Stephenson, now 83, led the 1960s Bristol bus boycott, which saw a ban on employing non-white drivers revoked.

Fumi Stephenson said her father was “honoured” the bursary was in his name.

“Dad was a teacher first and always advocated for education and specifically a decolonisation of knowledge which informs and unites people. The last thing he would ever want is division,” she said.

Image copyright Bristol Evening post
Image caption A newspaper cutting shows students marching in Bristol in protest against a “colour bar” on the buses in 1963

Ms Stephenson said her father went to university in Birmingham in the 1950s, and one of his first jobs was in teaching.

“He always promoted the importance of education in and outside the house.”

Mr Stephenson held senior appointments on the Press Council, the Sports Council and the Commission of Racial Equality after the bus boycott.

He has spoken at the UN and collaborated with Muhammad Ali on sports projects.

Image copyright Fumi Stephenson
Image caption Fumi Stephenson said she was “more than proud” of her “unique” father who had “the ability to connect with people on all levels”

Faculty academic director Myra Evans said UWE had been “working for some time” with the Stephenson family to set up the bursary.

Ms Evans said: “Paul has long valued education as a vehicle for positively changing practices and perceptions in society.

“While the decision to launch the bursary was not influenced by recent events, the Black Lives Matter movement has made the bursary more relevant and highlights the need to promote inclusivity across all parts of society.”

Ms Stephenson said BAME graduates “can bridge cohesion and be positive role models in the future”.

“And not only for BAME communities as we confront quite a different world from when my dad was encouraging cohesion in the 1960s.”

Image caption Fellow campaigners Guy Bailey, Roy Hackett with Paul Stephenson beside a 1960s-era Bristol bus at the 50th anniversary of the Bristol bus boycott in 2013

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