Artist Michele Curtis has completed her epic 7 murals across St Pauls, representing 7 local elders who made huge contributions to the city and who’s activism paved the way for change.
2 of the murals are on our properties. Owen Henry on the corner of City Road and Ashley Road and Barbara Dettering on the end of Tudor Road by St Paul Adventure playground.
The first mural completed is of Owen Henry one of our founders. Owen Henry was born in Jamaica. He came to the UK in 1955 and started work at Fry’s Chocolate Factory.
During the 1960s, there was a lot of open racial discrimination in Bristol, and so in 1963, Owen and others started the Commonwealth Co-ordinated Committee to highlight the problem.
This group supported the boycott of Bristol buses, and Owen campaigned alongside Paul Stephenson, Roy Hackett, Guy Reid-Bailey, Prince Brown and others. The Boycott became well known and within six months, they were victorious and the Bristol Omnibus Company had to lift their ban on employing Black people.
In 1968, the Committee also formed the St. Paul’s Festival Committee.
Owen also helped to set up The Bristol West Indian Parents’ and Friends’ Association in May 1970. They helped people from the Caribbean with education, housing, welfare and health problems. From there emerged United Housing Association to meet the housing needs of BAME community in St Pauls and surrounding areas. In 1990 they opened their first scheme Owen Henry House, in St Pauls.
The second of our murals is of Barbara Dettering. She was one of St Pauls Carnival founders, a local social worker and also helped set up our parent organisation UHA.
From Guardian article:
Only two of the seven founders are still alive: Hackett and Dettering. In a house on the other side of the M32, Dettering, 79, who helped hundreds of families during her time as a social worker, says she is pleased to have been chosen as one of the Seven Saints. “I feel honoured because I’ve worked for years in St Pauls,” she says in her living room, with its family pictures and mementoes from Guyana.
“When I go to St Pauls everybody calls to me ‘Aunty Babs’, ‘Aunty Barbara’, ‘Mrs D’ or ‘Mummy’ – never ‘Barbara’. It is a mark of respect and it is very endearing,” she says.
Dettering says the city has changed a lot since the 1960s, when there were “No Irish, no dogs, no blacks” signs in guest houses. But she is clear about the discrimination still faced by non-white residents, which led the Runnymede Trust to describe Bristol as one of the most divided cities in the country last year. “There are lots of opportunities for black people now,” she says, “but there is still racism.”
Nevertheless, she is proud of the blows her generation struck against institutional racism. “We have given a lot to Bristol because we never backed down,” she says. “We carried on our fight and our struggle”.
The heritage trail app is now available
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