Belfast Telegraph

Young can learn from Stephen Lawrence's death, says mum

By Donna Deeney

Anti-racism campaigner Doreen Lawrence has said there are lessons Northern Ireland can learn from her son’s death.

Mrs Lawrence will be in Londonderry tomorrow to deliver the opening event of the Foyle Film Festival Intercultural and Anti-Racism Programme.

Her son Stephen was just 18 years old when he was murdered in 1993 in a racially motivated attack. She had to wait for another 18 years to see his killers convicted after she embarked on a campaign to get justice for her son.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of her visit to Derry, Mrs Lawrence said educating young people at an early age about racism is essential.

She said: “I know there is not the level of racism in Northern Ireland that there would be in London, but it still exists.

“And there is sectarianism here, which is similar, so there is still a lesson for young people in Northern Ireland to learn.

“They need to understand that beneath the skin there is a human being and we are all the same.

“I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future. He was well loved, and had he been given the chance to survive maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white because he didn't distinguish between black or white. He saw people as people.”

Mrs Lawrence began a campaign to get justice for Stephen after a police investigation failed to secure convictions.

She will speak to an audience of young people at the Tower Hotel in Derry following a screening of a special Panorama documentary called ‘A Time for Justice' which looks into the conviction in January this year of his murderers, Gary Dobson and David Norris.

Tomorrow's screening is the opening offering for this year's award-winning Foyle Film Festival which is now entering its seventh year.

The Intercultural and Anti-Racism Programme aims to help promote a tolerant and inclusive society through education and entertainment. Over the next 10 days there will be a series of films and workshops open to the general public.

Background

Doreen Lawrence was a mature student studying for a degree when her son Stephen was murdered by white youths in Eltham, south-east London. Doreen has spent 18 years fighting for justice for Stephen, and other victims of racially motivated crime. In January this year Gary Dobson and David Norris were finally convicted of his murder.

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