Doreen Lawrence

Doreen Lawrence speaks“A mother with a mission”

visit websiteposted by: Zinzi Eka-Naphtali
published: 4th February 2012
Updates listed at the foot of this item

For the family of Doreen Lawrence, the pain and challenges in dealing with the loss of her son Stephen in April 1993 continue, and change. They permeate even the imagination of her granddaughter Mia, aged seven, who was born years after his murder.

Read about Stephen’s case here >

Mia has a child’s intense curiosity about “Uncle Stephen”, whom she knows only from photographs. Lawrence said: “She was asking me [the other day] if Stephen was an angel. I’m not sure how to answer that. How does she see what an angel is?”

During the recent court case that finally saw two people convicted of Stephen’s murder in April 1993, the adults in the Lawrence family had to be careful what they said about the case in front of Mia, and protected her innocence by hiding the fact they were going to court.

Lawrence said one decision she and Mia’s parents would have to make was when and how to tell her about the circumstances of her uncle’s violent death at the hands of a gang fuelled by racial hatred.

Lawrence, 59, has three grandchildren. Spending time with them lessens her pain, and reminds her that people are mostly good: “You can’t think about doom or gloom,” she says of the time spent with her grandchildren. “You can’t forget so you try to do things, put things in place, to lessen the pain.”

For the two months of the trial she says she could not tell which way the jury was leaning and tried to avoid her emotions overwhelming her: “No one could ever convince me we would get to the point of getting a guilty verdict. It was having that faith in the system, which we never had.”

The verdicts have yet to sink in fully. Lawrence says she is often “away with the fairies”, sometimes thinking she has only dreamt that the British criminal justice system has finally found people guilty of her first-born child’s murder.

Lawrence is trying to move on, but says continuing racial injustice in Britain must be tackled. Wider society must improve its attitudes to British African-Caribbeans, who are still viewed as the face of crime and are near the bottom for jobs and housing despite promises of change after the 1999 Macpherson inquiry into her son’s death and racism in British society.

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In April 1993 Doreen Lawrence was called to a hospital where she was told her 18-year-old son Stephen had been stabbed to death by a gang of youths in south-east London. Since then she has campaigned tirelessly for his killers to be brought to justice.

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The mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence today spoke of her fears for her personal safety after revealing she was a victim of racist hate mail. Doreen Lawrence arrived at a conference she was due to address with a police protection officer.

Books by Doreen Lawrence
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