Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Remarkable Residents: Doreen Lawrence

Throughout October to celebrate Black History Month the Lewisham Local History Archive Centre will post our chosen 15 truly remarkable residents. People who were born in the borough or lived within its borders.

9/15: Doreen Lawrence OBE

Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE is an anti-racism campaigner and founder of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in 1998. She received an OBE in 2003 for services to community relations. In 2012 she won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride of Britain Awards and was made a life peer in 2013. In January 2016, she was appointed as Chancellor of De Montfort University. She is a member of both the board and the council of Liberty, and patron of hate crime charity, Stop Hate UK. 

Doreen Lawrence was born in Jamaica in 1952. She immigrated to England aged nine, and later became a bank worker. She is the mother of Stephen Lawrence, a British teenager who was murdered in a racist attack in Eltham in 1993. For many years, Doreen has sought justice for her son while creating a positive and dynamic legacy in his honour. She and Stephen’s father, Neville Lawrence, founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in 1998 to promote a positive community legacy in their son’s name.

A public inquiry into the handling of Stephen’s case was held in 1998, leading to the publication of the Macpherson Report, one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain.  It led to profound cultural changes to attitudes on racism, to the law and to police practice.  It also paved the way for a greater understanding of discrimination of all forms and new equality legislation.

In 2000, she set up the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to help young people realise their ambitions to become architects. In 2008, the Stephen Lawrence Centre was opened in Deptford, giving thousands more young people an opportunity to nurture and use their creativity. In 2014 she was awarded Freedom of the Borough for her services to the borough.

The Council agreed: ‘To do one of these things in the wake of such a devastating personal tragedy would be remarkable but to do both indicates someone deserving of the highest recognition. The dignity and humanity that she has demonstrated makes her a truly inspirational figure for our borough.’

Local History and Archives Centre. Email:local.studies@lewisham.gov.uk

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