The University of Westminster is proud to present Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE in conversation with Professor Steven Barnett.
Baroness Lawrence joined the Westminster community last year when she accepted the award of an Honorary Doctorate. Baroness Lawrence is founder of The Stephen Lawrence Trust and The Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, which aims to help young black men from disadvantaged backgrounds enter the legal profession. She is Chancellor at De Montfort University and her dedication to education and equality mirrors the University’s values.
Professor Barnett will be talking to Baroness Lawrence about her continued work to promote education, her views on the role of universities to support social mobility and about the benefits that international students bring to universities and the economy.
Doreen Lawrence was born in Jamaica, but settled in the UK at an early age and raised her family of 3 children. At the time of embarking on a BA Honours Humanities Degree, which was later successfully completed in 1995, her first son Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered on 22 April 1993.
Following a nationwide appeal, Doreen Lawrence set about challenging the British justice system and the police force due to their appalling racist behaviour against her family. Two weeks after the murder of Stephen, she met with the late Nelson Mandela. It was only then, after Mr Mandela had spoken out, that the first arrests were made.
After the initial catastrophic investigation, the acquittal of suspects and the Macpherson Report’s conclusion that “Stephen Lawrence’s murder was solely and unequivocally motivated by racism”, a measure of justice was finally achieved. The conviction of two suspects in January 2012 through the abolishment of the double jeopardy law (2005) was a direct result of Doreen and her family’s determination to fight for justice.
Doreen Lawrence is the Founder and Life President of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust (SLCT), a charity she set up from 1998 to give bursaries to young people to study architecture in honour of her son Stephen who had high aspirations of working towards becoming an architect. The Stephen Lawrence Centre built in Stephen’s memory is situated in Deptford in the London Borough of Lewisham.
Doreen Lawrence was appointed OBE for services to community relations in 2003, awarded the Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich in 2012 and received a life peerage in 2013, taking office in the House of Lords as a Labour Peer in October 2013 as Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon.
In recognition of her work in seeking justice for her son, creating a positive and dynamic legacy in his honour through the Stephen Lawrence Centre and Charitable Trust, Doreen Lawrence OBE was admitted as an Honorary Freewoman of the London Borough of Lewisham on 14 March 2014.
In 2016, Doreen Lawrence was inaugurated and officially welcomed as the Chancellor of De Montfort University in Leicester. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of Westminster in the same year.
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon is often referred to as an “Inspirational Mother and Campaigner”.