Today, Bristol will celebrate and commemorate the life of a legend Roy Hackett. Yet we will know Roy’s life extend beyond the cities walls.
I credit Roy as one of the key elements for improving the lives of the Black community in Bristol through his selfless work. He has had also had a major impact in changing race relations in Britain and progressing social justice. Born in Jamaica in 1928, Roy emigrated to the UK in 1952 aged 24 arriving in Liverpool. He moved to Bristol accepting a role at the Hinckley Point power station, Somerset in 1957. However, it wasn’t an easy road. In his inspiring lifetime he experienced racism and discrimination and then helped others to fight against it
Roy felt the full effects of the colour bar first-hand when he applied for labouring work and was instantly informed the job wouldn’t be his The company told him that they didn’t hire Africans which he felt was an insult as proud holder of a British passport which he carried on his speaking engagements. His late-wife, Ena also applied for a job as a bus conductor and despite meeting all of the requirements she too was refused.
Roy, along with three other members of the Black community, set up the West Indian Development Council. It was here that he worked alongside activist Dr Paul Stephenson OBE and Guy Reid Bailey to fight racism and also his mentor Owain Henry.
Roy was the co-founder of the Bristol West Indian Parents and Friends Association, also known as the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee (CCC). The group was a precursor for the St Pauls Carnival which Roy supported until his death. Roy was awarded numerous awards including the MBE in 2020 and also an award from The High Commissioner of Jamaica. Roy supported several community groups in Bristol and was a regular guest on Ujima Radio supporting the Dubplate to Dubstep and Black and Green Projects that we ran. He gave talks to our students at UWE Bristol about activism during our Windrush Generations project at UWE Bristol and is honoured with a mural as one of Michelle Curtis’ 7 Saints of St Pauls.
Roy and other community leaders such as Barbera Dettering and the late Leo Goodridge gave myself and many others strength and inspiration to tackle racism and inequality. He will be deeply missed by many beyond his grieving family, however the legacy of his lifetime of achievements will last for generations.