By Ben Allen
The mother of murdered student Stephen Lawrence gave a thought-provoking talk on the Race Relations Act at Bournemouth University last month.
The speech by Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE followed the university’s celebration of Black History Month. The annual event featured collaborations with several local organisations including Dorset Police, Bournemouth and Poole councils and South-West Multicultural Network.
The talk by Lady Lawrence marked 50 years since the passing of the original 1965 legislation which was the first of its kind in the UK concerned with racial discrimination.
During her speech she examined the effectiveness of the Act and its amendments, as well as criticising mental health services. She also highlighted a lack of support for the black community, particularly for young men.
“They tend to get arrested and when they do they are immediately locked up and not given the right support,” she claimed. “The Health Minister talks a lot about mental health but never when it concerns the black community who are overrepresented within the mental health system.”
She also reflected on the history of black people in the UK, from the arrival of the Windrush (a ship carrying migrants from the Caribbean) in 1948, right up to the current climate of race relations, providing a valued personal insight from her experiences.
In 1993, her son Stephen was brutally stabbed to death in a racially motivated attack in Eltham, South London.