Baroness Doreen Lawrence gave an interview to DMU’s Chief Operating Officer, Ben Browne, following her graduation ceremony. The wide-ranging conversation, in front of an audience at Trinity Chapel, was brave, touching and moving. We reproduce some of the conversation below:
On her inspirations:
My grandmother, who was born in Jamaica. She never turned anybody away and looked after people. Maya Angelou – when I read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, that really touched me and I was fortunate enough to meet her quite a few times. Nelson Mandela. I was privileged to meet him. In 1993, when no one wanted to know what happened to my son, he was the one who stood up and spoke out
On how she kept fighting for justice:
I don’t really know. We all love our family, we all love our children. I just felt that Stephen did not have a voice. For those in authority who could do something, and they almost turned their backs on us. Stephen was black, and nobody wanted to know…
I had to speak up, because if I didn’t, no one else would care about him
On the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, set up in memory of her son who dreamed of being an architect:
Quite a few of them are architects now. They are mentors to other students. We are looking to the future and the next generation. We are working with a school in the borough of Greenwich to inspire students who want to get into law.
Her message for young people:
Whatever is in their heart, follow what you feel inside. Strive for the future and you can be whatever you want to be. Whatever it is, whatever you want to do you should go ahead and try.
On challenging people in authority:
As long as I’m respectful to people, but at the same time challenging. I will always challenge you if I think you are wrong. I feel like I have got to step up to the mark
On the House of Lords:
There’s not enough people like me in the House of Lords. It’s as if money, jobs – it’s nothing to some of these people. Not enough people who know real life. If there is one thing I would like to do in the next five to 10 years, I would like to build the confidence to stand up and say: “You’re talking nonsense!”
On young people:
Young people need to value themselves. I was in Brixton, and someone said to me, I didn’t expect to live beyond the age of 25. That is shocking.
On the IPCC:
The IPCC needs to have new people in, new investigators, so it can be truly independent rather than having retired police officers. I think the police sometimes act in a ‘them and us’ way. Police need the public in order to police. They need to remember the human beings underneath the uniform.
On what has changed since Stephen’s murder:
In some respects, things have changed, especially after the report came out. Everybody was talking about race relations, equality and diversity. Laws have changed. Police are part of the race relations act now.
Race is something that nobody likes to talk about. They talk about diversity. They are comfortable with that word.
Posted on Friday 23rd January 2015