Paul Stephenson Lecture 2024

Thursday 25 April

On April 29th 1963, Paul Stephenson led the Bristol Bus Boycott, the UK’s most successful black-led protest movement. On April 10th 1964, he infamously began his one-man-sit-in of the Bay Horse Pub. Both events paved the way for implementing the Race Relations Act 1965, the UK’s first-ever anti-racist law.


As we approach the 60th anniversary of these three pivotal UK civil rights moments, Curiosity UnLtd has proudly partnered with Diversity UK, Burges Salmon and Triodos Bank. Together, for the first time in its history, we proudly bring the prestigious and high-profile annual Paul Stephenson Lecture to Bristol, its ancestral home city.

On April 25th, we invite you to join us for the 9th Paul Stephenson Lecture to hear from Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees. Join us for this last opportunity to hear Europe’s first elected Mayor of Black descent share his final reflections on his eight years in office before he leaves office.

Themed around ‘Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants’, this fireside chat will explore his thoughts on Martin Luther King, the legacy of the Bristol Bus Boycott, the toppling of Colston’s statue and his friendship with Alexei Navalny. Also, the future of the One City Plan, his approach to inclusive growth, tackling inequality, the housing crisis, the environmental emergency and more. As part of this event, you can expect a powerful poetry performance, a presentation of honour to the pioneers of the Bristol Bus Boycott, and a short film. There will also be a chance to do some networking over drinks and nibbles.

Please note that filming and photography will be taking place at this event. Also, by registering to attend, you agree that all tickets are non-transferable, and all attending guests agree to abide by the event code of conduct. These can be viewed here.

About the Paul Stephson Lectures

Launched at the House of Commons in 2016, previous keynotes of the Paul Stephenson Lectures have included Lord Simon Wooley, Vernon Patrick OBE, Tom Ilube CBE, and Professor. Marcia Wilson.

About Paul Stephenson OBE

Paul Stephenson, OBE, is a community worker, activist and long-time campaigner for civil rights for the British African-Caribbean community in Bristol, England. As a young social worker, in April 1963, Stephenson led a boycott of the Bristol Omnibus Company, protesting against its refusal to employ Black or Asian drivers or conductors. In August 1963, the day the Boycott defeated the ‘Colour Bar’, Martin Luther King gave his iconic ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. In 1964, Stephenson achieved national fame when he refused to leave a public house until he was served, resulting in a trial for failing to leave licensed premises. His campaigns were instrumental in paving the way for the first Race Relations Act in 1965. Paul Stephenson is a Freeman of the City of Bristol and was awarded an OBE in 2009. In July 2014, Mr Stephenson was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Law) by the University of Bristol “for his dedication to fighting for equality and civil rights across Bristol and around the world for over 60 years”.

About Marvin Rees OBE

Standing on the shoulders of giants, Marvin Rees was first elected Mayor in May 2016. That day, Bristol became the first major European city to have elected a black mayor. He describes becoming Mayor as another expression of a more profound commitment to building a fairer, more inclusive world.

He is set to have overseen the building of over 14,500 new homes, announced the development of a mass transit system, and, through Bristol WORKS, provided some 30,000 quality experience of work activities for young people. Marvin worked with partners to secure £95 million to unlock 10,000 new homes and 22,000 new jobs in Temple Quarter, one of Europe’s largest regeneration schemes.

Working with partners, including through the award-winning One City Approach, he coordinated Bristol’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and planned its recovery – while also steering the city through the aftermath of the toppling of the Colston statue. The Mayor also led the successful bid to bring Channel 4 to Bristol and leads the city’s response to both the climate and ecological emergencies.

Marvin secured the landmark Bristol City Leap partnership in 2022, which plans £771 million investment in clean energy by 2029, creating 1,000 jobs and cutting 150,000 tonnes of emissions. As a founding member of 3Ci and the Mayors Migration Council, Marvin has advocated for cities to be at the heart of tackling climate change, including in a Ted Talk viewed by more than 1.6 million people and as the UK’s representative to the Commonwealth Local Government Forum.

About Curiosity UnLtd

Curiosity UnLtd is an award-winning, Bristol-based think-and-do-tank. It co-creates racial and social justice adventures with corporate, civic, and community changemakers. Curiosity Unltd is working towards transforming Bristol from the 7th worst to the best UK city for people of colour. Curiosity UnLtd

About Diversity UK

Diversity UK is an equality charity that aims to research, advocate and promote ideas for improving diversity and inclusion in Britain. It is an evidence-based initiative that seeks to influence policy, enhance civic engagement, and improve the perception of the minority ethnic community in Britain. Diversity UK aims to advance the public’s education in diversity and inclusion in the workplace by conducting research for the public benefit in all aspects of that subject and publishing valuable results. About Diversity UK

Bristol Bus Boycott 360

The 9th Paul Stephenson Lecture is part of Bristol Bus Boycott 360, an ambitious three-year initiative co-creating 360 ways with civic and corporate changemakers to help transform Bristol from the 7th worst into the best UK city for people of colour. Bristol Bus Boycott 360 is inspired and informed by its three pivotal 60th anniversaries, including:

  1. The 1963 victory of the BBB was on the same day that Martin Luther King had a dream.
  2. 1964, Paul Stephenson’s’ one-man-sit-in of the Bay Horse pub and Martin Luther King’s Nobel Peace Prize.
  3. The 1965 Race Relations Act and Martin Luther King’s march on Selma.

Civic and corporate changemakers can learn more by watching our short film. You can join the Bristol Bus Boycott 360 movement by emailing or pledging your support by going to Curiosity UnLtd.

About Burges Salmon

Based in Bristol, Burges Salmon is a market-leading independent UK law firm providing the best proposition for its people and clients.

By focusing on the markets and areas of expertise, they have extensive knowledge and experience to achieve the best outcomes for their clients, who range from large organisations, entrepreneurial businesses and public sector bodies to individuals, families and their global wealth. Burges Salmon website.

About Triodos Bank

Headquartered in Bristol, Triodos Bank’s mission is to help create a society that protects and promotes quality of life and human dignity for all. Since 1980, our sustainable financial products have enabled individuals and organisations to use their money in ways that benefit people and the environment. Triodos Bank UK website.