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Watch: We Rise - An Anthem for Change

Inspired by the 60th anniversary of the Bristol Bus Boycott, four young artists from Bristol have come together to release We Rise – a powerful new track that aims to inspire a future built on the principles championed by those who took part in the original Bristol Bus Boycott in 1963. 

The Boycott was a landmark protest against the Bristol Omnibus Company’s refusal to employ Black or Asian bus crews, leading to a significant victory in the UK civil rights movement and changing attitudes towards discrimination. The new track We Rise channels the resilience and hope of the civil rights trailblazers who transformed the nation, and is set to launch ahead of Windrush Day at Bristol Beacon as part of Windrush To Bristol, a programme celebrating the rich cultural legacy of the Windrush generation in Bristol.

Young woman with glasses seated with arms raised while singing

“My Grandmother was part of the Windrush generation, so this project feels very personal. I want young people to feel like they can have a voice when it comes to history. I want to show that there’s things you can do as a young person that can make a change.”

Laila Richardson (Elarbe)

Young man staring into distance
Young man staring into camera with cap and headphones on
Young man singing, looking into camera with headphones on

Commissioned by Bristol Beacon and Curiosity UnLtd, the project was delivered by Aspiration Creation Elevation CIC (ACE), based at Docklands Community Centre in St Pauls – the heart of the Bus Boycott movement. ACE brought together talented young artists Elarbe, Dreamz, Jayemm and Cstar to collaborate with seasoned music mentors Andre Currie, Javeon, Tanya Lacey, and Liam Callaway. The result is an empowering track that reflects on past struggles whilst rejoicing in the progress made.

As part of the track’s creation, the artists involved in the We Rise track visited Parliament alongside individuals that took part in the original boycott, attending a reception hosted by Bristol West MP and Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire. This visit highlighted the historical significance of the boycott, which paved the way for the Race Relations Act of 1965.

We Rise is accompanied by a music video paying tribute to the St Pauls community and featuring footage from the Parliament visit. A Behind the Scenes film, exploring the track’s themes and capturing the Parliament speeches, has also been released. Both videos will be prominently featured in the Race Cards: A Blueprint 4 Change exhibition at Bristol Beacon from 20 June to 5 July as part of the Windrush To Bristol programme, during which a number of the Bristol Bus Boycott pioneers will be honoured with a seat dedication in the venue’s 2,000+ capacity Beacon Hall auditorium.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants, and the trip to Parliament was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for these young artists to get up close and personal with some of those giants. We travelled up in a bus that had been fully wrapped to tell the Bristol Bus Boycott story. This provided a unique setting to inspire and ultimately enrich their songwriting process. We Rise exceeded my expectations and is truly an anthem for change that Bristol can be inspired by and proud of.”

Julz Davis, Disruptor-in-Chief at Curiosity UnLtd

Crowd of people in front of a bus wrapped with Bristol Bus Boycott anniversary artwork
Visit to Parliament
Mural on the side of a house in St Pauls
Seven Saints of St Pauls

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