B&W on the Buses

Extract from Madge Dresser’s introduction to ‘Black and White on the Buses’ October 1986

I hope that my pamphlet will be a useful resource to the Black youth of Britain in their exploration of their own past. I hope it conveys to them some sense of what their parents and grandparents went through on their arrival in this country. The modest concessions they gained were won by courage and persisitence. Their stories are worth retelling.

It is worth recording too, that the motives of those whites who supported the bus boycott cannot be explained away, as some would do, as meddlesome do-gooding or cynical politicking. People who can see beyond their own immediate self interest and comfort are rare, and this pamphlet is a testament to all those, black, brown and white, who swam against the tide of complacency and intolerance.

Finally, it is my fervent hope that this article is not dismissed as a union bashing piece. True, it does expose the racism and insensitivity which existed amongst some of the rank and file bus crews. But it also shows how much such attitudes were grounded in fears about economic security at a time of great social and cultural change.

The spirit of solidarity amongst the crews is in many ways inspiring and I am grateful for the honesty of those busmen and women I interviewed.

The Regional and National leaderships of the TGWU are now evolving their own policies against racism. I hope this pamphlet will be of use to them as part of that process.


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Madge Dresser displays her book from 1986 that continues to play a central role in telling the history of the 1963 boycott.

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