I’m republishing this diary from 18 months ago on the wonderful news that the mother of Stephen Lawrence, victim of a racist killing that continues to have repercussions among the police and press even now, has been elevated to the House of Lords.
I’m no fan of the honours system or our unelected second chamber, but before it’s abolished, the thought that Doreen Lawrence, who has campaigned tirelessly for twenty years to bring her son’s murderers to justice (and expose the collusion and institutional racism of the police) is to become a Labour peer is the best news I’ve heard in ages.
HT to Denise for the following video which shows Doreen meeting with the Trayvon Martin family in London last year at the Stephen Lawrence foundation
Below is a tribute to her, written by our poet laureate.
Let me share with you a brief moment. I don’t know how many Kossacks have followed the story of Stephen Lawrence, the 19 year old student who was randomly and viciously murdered by a gang 19 years ago, in a famously racist part of South London, waiting at a bus stop, not far from where I used to live, and also close to the fascist BNP headquarters in Eltham.
For many people, his murder, and the failure to prosecute his killers, was a seminal moment in race relations in the UK – and an acceptance of the double standard Black Britons face when it comes to receiving justice.
But above, his parents campaigned for justice for their murdered son.
Well, this week, after three abortive trials and the Macpherson Report that concluded that Stephen’s killers were never brought to justice in the UK because of ‘institutional racism’ in the Metropolitan Police, a cold case investigation found conclusive evidence that linked two of the gang to the murder, and they were sentenced to the maximum sentence (still under review) for juveniles – as they were at the time.
But this is not why I am writing this diary. Our poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who is not only the first woman poet officially appointed by the Queen to talk to the nation, and the first Scot, but also the first openly gay poet in that role, has just written this beautiful and moving tribute. I’ve always wondered how on earth any poet worth their salt could be paid to celebrate official birthdays and jubilees. But Carol Ann Duffy has restored in this brief lyric, the whole idea of the engaged public poet.
Cold pavement indeed
the night you died,
but the airborne drop of blood
from your wound
was a seed
your mother sewed
into hard ground –
your life’s length doubled,
till one flower, thorned,
in her hand,
love’s just blade.