Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon in conversation with BAFTA award winning director Paul Greengrass at The Henley Literary Festival, October 2014
Baroness Doreen Lawrence is a name known by many due to the tragic experience her family went through twenty-one years ago when her son Stephen Lawrence was murdered. She received her OBE in 2003, had an important symbolic role in the 2012 London Olympic ceremony and became Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon in 2013.
In conversation with Paul Greengrass Baroness Lawrence spoke of her life from a childhood in Jamaica to sitting in the House of Lords. She shared memories of a loving childhood spent with her grandmother in Jamaica. The sudden loss of her grandmother saw the nine-year old Doreen join her siblings in 1960’s England.
The terrible murder of Stephen Lawrence changed her life forever and she has had to struggle to find justice publicly, whilst finding places to grieve privately. She shared how relieved and yet shocked she was that two of the accused were eventually convicted in 2012. She hopes others will eventually be convicted.
For me she embodies gentleness, self-awareness, clarity of thought and a quiet determination to seek justice for herself and others. Together with her legal team she has changed the law on double jeopardy, influenced the way police officers are trained and helped to bring to attention the way many ordinary Black people experience the criminal justice system.
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust was set up to support Black young people to become architects because Stephen wanted to follow this career path. Her team are also working with partners to bring more diversity into journalism and law.
Baroness Lawrence’s autobiography is entitled ‘And Still I Rise’ from the Maya Angelou poem. The room stood still when Paul Greengrass invited her to read it.
The attentive audience asked her to share her reflections on racism, gender politics and policing over the period. She gave intelligent and honest answers without setting herself up as the expert on Black young people.
I left feeling moved and inspired. She believes it is for us to “think about the community we live in, bridge the gap and make a difference”. She did not choose politics but can see its power to make changes for a more just and accountable society.