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My Black History tribute to 'living legend' Doreen Lawrence

LIVING LEGEND: Doreen Lawrence (PA)

BLACK HISTORY Month has long been celebrated by remembering the heroes and pioneers who have paved the way to improve the lives of people of African Caribbean descent.

Today I wish to celebrate a modern day pioneer. The living legend and my friend, Doreen Lawrence, now to be know as The Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon.

This year marks 20 years since the life of Doreen Lawrence and the Lawrence family changed forever.

As a mother, Doreen has spent the last two decades not only grieving the loss of her son but fighting for justice for Stephen.

Throughout this time she has remained a remarkable tower of strength. We now have a generation who have grown up alongside her fight for justice and witnessed her strength in the face of adversity; with a firm determination and quiet confidence that one day justice would be served.

My first real contact with the Lawrence family began as a 22-year-old south Londoner, when I heard about the increase in racial attacks that coincided with the opening of a BNP bookshop in southeast London.

Over the years I have, like many others, attended many demonstrations and meetings, lobbied and done what I can do to help the Lawrence family see justice done.

Through their struggle which included a failed police investigation, a private prosecution, an Inquest and the Macpherson Inquiry, we all learned important lessons about ourselves.

Every part of our society had to face up to the full consequences of what racism can do, from the tragedy of taking young lives, to polluting and corrupting the functioning of our public bodies.

Throughout Doreen’s determined and resolute pursuit of justice over many years, she has exhibited a strength and patience that never wavered, and without her and her family justice would never have been served.

That voice still calls for justice and social change and helps promising young talents realise their dreams through the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

It helps young people from all walks of life to fulfil their potential and continues to stand alongside Stephen's memory as a remarkable tribute to an exceptional young man from a family that continues to be an inspiration to us all.

Mother, friend, activist, life-changer now law-maker. Doreen’s newest role as a Labour member of the House of Lords will only build on her achievements to date.

If there’s one thing she has shown us all is that you do not need an esteemed title to make a difference in the lives of few and many.

Her appointment is a true gain for Parliament. She may walk the corridors of Parliament as a minority not just as a female but one of African Caribbean descent but she walks as a giant.

She is a role model not just for other women or ethnic minorities, but for us all.

Doreen is a shining example of immovable courage and dignified strength. She has known the loss that every parent dreads and has risen to be the spokesperson for change in race relations and victims’ policy in spite of this.

She did it all without a title and without a forerunner. This Black History Month I want to salute and pay tribute to Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon.

Sadiq Khan MP is the Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Minister for London

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