Bob Marley was onto something. “You never know how strong you are until (the day) being strong is your only choice,” he said. The depth of this is not lost on justice campaigner Doreen Lawrence.
When a group of racist white thugs killed her son at a bus stop in London on April 22, 1993, the tenacious Jamaican housewife became as strong as Sampson overnight.
Bolstered with the support of her husband Neville, she battled against institutions and hurdles. She developed campaign skills she never knew she had. Her desire was to see justice prevail. The goal was to have those thugs convicted for their crime. The journey took 20 years. One that has so far resulted in two men convicted of the murder and her being given a peerage for the tenacity of her efforts.
Baroness Lawrence Award
This award (or is it reward?) is bitter-sweet. It took the death of her son Stephen, humiliation of corrupted officials, skulduggery, spying and dogged determination and the break-up of her marriage, for her to arrive at where she is today.
Has it really been worth it? That depends on what she does from this point forward. Baroness Lawrence, her new title, is adamant she will use the position to empower the voiceless and tackle causes normally considered dead. If she can deliver on this then the title, Baroness will be wholly inadequate.
Yet, not everyone is happy about her being elevated to this position. One caller to a BBC Radio London program aggressively questioned the awarding of the peerage to Doreen. “What’s she done to deserve it?” the irate caller asked. “There are other mothers out there who have lost sons. They haven’t been given a knighthood…”
Get Up, Stand Up Baroness Lawrence
You can never please some people. Nevertheless, the call and sentiments it contained, is a reminder, or at least a suspicion, that for many people, hatred is a very special friend. When Baroness Lawrence takes up her seat in the House of Lords, she will be mindful of this, no doubt.
She will also realise what a daunting task she has ahead of her. She will be totally outside her comfort zone, in a job traditionally done by privileged white men and women. How many will actually share or reflect the views of the London caller? No one knows, of course.
She would be wise to heed the words of Bob Marley and draw on her resolve of strength if she is to rise above the wolf pack around her. Only a fool would bet against her winning…