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#BHM: Today’s History Maker, Doreen Lawrence OBE

Continuing our agency’s support for Black History Month, today we praise Doreen Lawrence OBE, mother of Stephen Lawrence, who has been a pioneering campaigner and force for good since that tragic day in 1993.

Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE. Anti-racism campaigner and Labour peer. The charitable foundation she set up in Stephen’s memory is providing a lasting legacy by changing thousands of young lives.

Stephen was 18 when he was stabbed to death by a racist gang in 1993, and when murder charges against the suspects were dropped, Doreen resolved to hold the men who killed her son to account. She became a powerful campaigner, forcing a public inquiry into the way police dealt with Stephen’s murder.

In 1999, after years of campaigning by the Lawrence family, a wide-ranging judicial inquiry was established to investigate the circumstances of Stephen’s death. It concluded that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist, one of the primary causes of their failure to solve the Stephen Lawrence case.

In the aftermath of the inquiry, Doreen Lawrence continued to campaign for justice for her son as well as for other victims of racist crime.

Meanwhile, in 2000 Doreen won an amendment to the Race Relations Act, meaning authorities must reveal what measures they are taking to treat all people fairly. Then, thanks to her campaigning, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 scrapped double jeopardy – the legal principle preventing someone being tried twice for the same crime.

In 2003, she was awarded the OBE for services to community relations, and in 2008 she opened the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Lewisham which offers free courses in IT, creative arts and multimedia.

Doreen was made a life peer in 2013. She has been selected to sit on panels within the Home Office and the Police Service and is a member of both the board and the council of the organisation Liberty and patron of hate crime charity, Stop Hate UK. Doreen launched the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in 1998 to promote equal opportunities for young people: “We also run a programme to financially support architecture students, as Stephen dreamed of being an architect.”

Doreen’s autobiography ‘And still I rise – seeking justice for Stephen’ was published by Faber & Faber in 2006.

(Image Credit: DMU TEF celebration London Science Museum)