The brutal murder of her son, Stephen Lawrence, propelled Baroness Doreen Lawrence into public prominence when she led a tireless campaign to expose police racism

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Doreen Delceita Lawrence, née Graham, was born in Jamaica in 1952 and arrived in the UK at the age of nine. She completed her education in southeast London before becoming a bank worker. She married Neville Lawrence in 1972 and the couple had three children, first, Stephen, followed by Stuart and Georgina.

Following Stephen’s brutal stabbing at a bus stop near their home in 1993, Doreen and Neville were propelled into the public eye. Their criticism of the Metropolitan Police’s botched handling of the murder investigation, which failed to follow up vital evidence, received the public backing of Nelson Mandela during his visit to London.

After a tireless campaign, a wide-ranging judicial inquiry into the police investigation was established by Home Secretary, Jack Straw in 1999. Chaired by Sir William MacPherson, it sensationally concluded that the Metropolitan Police had failed to convict anyone for the crime because they were “institutionally racist”.

She said at the time: “Black people are still dying on the streets and in the back of police vans. For me, institutional racism is ingrained and it’s hard to think of how it will be eradicated from the police force”.

In 2011, the police announced that two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were to stand trial for the murder in the light of new evidence. The following year Dobson and Norris were found guilty of Lawrence’s murder and are serving life sentences.

Doreen’s book, And I Still Rise: Seeking Justice for Stephen was published in 2006, detailing her life following her son’s murder. She went on to establish the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust to promote a positive community legacy in her son’s name.

In 2003 she was awarded an OBE for services to community relations. In 2012 she took part in the London Olympics opening ceremony and in 2013 was appointed a life-peer, formally titled Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon in the Commonwealth Realm of Jamaica.

Among the many ways she has been publicly recognised are: Chris Ofili’s 1998 Turner Prize winning painting of her titled No Woman No Cry, and topping the BBC Woman’s Hour power list 2014 as Britain’s most influential woman. In 2016 she was also unveiled as the new Chancellor of De Montfort University, Leicester.

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