22 April 2019

Stephen Lawrence Day

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I can’t believe that it’s now 26 years since Stephen Lawrence’s death. Today is also the first ever Stephen Lawrence Day.

I have therefore been reflecting on his death by a gang, the way The Macpherson inquiry talked about institutional racism in the police and what has happened since.

Amid the rise in hate crime and the rise of the far right, Doreen Lawrence, his mum, talks with such grace and positivity about tolerance and inclusivity. His father Neville, says that his anger has gone, despite the fact that some of the killers who are still at large are known and the justice system has failed for the family.

It is no surprise that with this attitude, one of the legacies of this awful incident is a focus on turning things around in the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which has also recently launched a BAME Leadership Programme pilot in Lewisham.

I have a personal memory going back 4 years ago now of remembering him.

I met Ruth Ibegbuna just before she formed the much praised charity RECLAIM. There has been excellent collaboration between Result CIC and RECLAIM along the way, for coaching the staff and the young people, who have carried on benefitting from the charity’s great work.

One day when I went into their offices for a coaching session, I was confronted by a film crew and the next minute I was asked to get involved in a short film! The chance of being in a film (albeit momentarily!), to keep the memory of this young man alive doesn’t come to you every day. So in this way I read one line of a poem written by one of the young people. Such a memorable moment! Here is the short film.

Some years later and Ruth is an important member of our Advisory Panel, so we have the chance to ask her a couple of questions and find out about the latest project that she is involved with:

‘Why is Stephen Lawrence day so important?’

‘Stephen's racist murder and the subsequent lack of detailed investigation was absolutely pivotal moment in British race relations. It was a moment when the crushing reality of Police institutional racism was revealed.

It was deeply upsetting for all decent people to see this grieving family treated so appallingly by powerful forces. This case forced the UK to face up to uncomfortable truths and highlighted that 'justice' for young black victims is often a long lonely fight. 

Stephen Lawrence and the Lawrence family's fight for truth should never be forgotten.

Many things have changed since then, but we still have our own uncomfortable truths to confront. I started Roots to get people to understand one another - people who otherwise would never even speak, whose worlds never overlap.

Were it not for the fact that (then Daily Mail Editor) Paul Dacre's plasterer was Stephen Lawrence's father, the case would never have had the attention it had. We need to make sure that those with influence get to know those in all sorts of different communities by practice, not by chance.’

Read more about The Roots Programme to see why it’s so vital for us to start talking to people who we don’t usually get a chance to communicate with. The need to highlight our similarities and not our differences is more important than ever.

 
 
 
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