Here at Virago, we’ve celebrated at length the achievements of historical female figures, but today we wanted to talk about women who deserve recognition for the work they have done and continue to do.
Doreen Lawrence now known as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, is a anti-racism campaigner and Labour peer.
She managed to turn the most tragic situation to ever happen to her into a tool to carve out a public platform and space for herself to promote change and racial equality.
After the murder of her son Stephen in 1993, aged only 18 in one the biggest race hate crimes to shake the U.K, Doreen and her then husband Neville Lawrence both claimed the Metropolitan Police investigation was not being conducted professionally citing racism and incompetence as the main flaws. It wasn’t until 1999 after years of campaigning, backing from the community, politicians and the media, a judicial inquiry was launched by Jack Straw the then Home Secretary.
Chaired by Sir William McPherson, the inquiry was to investigate the circumstances of Stephen’s death and handling of the case. It went international when the court ruled that the Metropolitan Police was “institutionally racist” and ruled this was one of the many reasons police failed to solve the case.
In the aftermath of the inquiry, Ms Lawrence continued to campaign for justice for her son and to ensure the arrest of her son’s killers, but also for other victims of racist crime. She worked tirelessly to ensure there were reforms to the police service. In 2003 she was awarded an OBE (this is the highest honour for civilians from the common wealth) for services to the community. She founded the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to promote a positive community legacy for her son. In January 2012, 18 years after his death, Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty for the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
She has since been appointed to sit on panels within the Home Office, the Police Service. In April 20014 she was named Britains’ most powerful women in the BBC Women’s hour power list 2014.
At 65 she has earned her space in British history for her fearlessness for taking on the Met Police and shes just as outspoken today as she ever was. It was only in January of this year Doreen said that MP’s would care more if the victims of London’s soaring knife crime were white, she was quoted in Guardian article as saying
“I’m tired of reading about it in the paper. I’m tired of seeing families talking about their sons. I’m really, really tired of it,” Lawrence told the Press Association. “I think the government needs to get a grip. It comes under the race issue again – look who’s dying. If that was the amount of kids who were in the white community that were dying, do you think that something would have been done?” -Doreen Lawrence
Doreen Lawrence represents and signifies everything we believe Virago here at Virago and we’ve made her an honorary Virago women.
It is obvious that she will be more than qualify for a blue plaque.