TV Review, Stephen : The Murder that Changed a Nation (BBC1)

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Image Credit : BBC News

source: The Independent
published: 16 April 2018

Just as Doreen and Neville Lawrence have conducted themselves with such exemplary dignity over the quarter-century since their eldest child, Stephen, was murdered, so too did the makers of the BBC’s Stephen: the Murder that Changed a Nation create a highly moving account, characterised above all with that same quality of quiet dignity.

In this first of the three episodes running this week, the outstanding personality was Doreen, now Baroness, Lawrence, who was driven by grief and a restrained anger to secure justice for her son. It bears repeating that Stephen was not a criminal, was not into drugs, didn’t carry knives, and was a studious, creative, ambitious and peaceable young man, as the film showed; everything, by all accounts, his assailants were not.

As we learned about the casual racism that seemed to govern this part of south-east London in those days – Eltham, Welling (where the BNP had a headquarters) and Thamesmead.

It was jarring to be reminded of it now, in 2018, even for those of us well into adulthood at the times of the crime. Black men and black women, law abiding and doing nothing more or less than working to make a home for themselves and their family, would be called the N-word by cowards driving past, or have missiles hurled at them and, as we all know only too well, be the subject of random beatings and stabbings. If the past is another country, then it was not somewhere many of us would wish to visit.

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