Archbishop warning on racism battle

The fight against the "invidious and devastating cancer" of racism, 20 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, must be continued, the Archbishop of York said.

Dr John Sentamu, in his former role as Bishop of Stepney, played a major role in the campaign for justice alongside the Lawrence family and the inquiry into what went wrong.

The high-ranking cleric wrote in the Yorkshire Post how Mr Lawrence could now be a successful 38-year-old architect with a wife and family, loved and respected, had he not been the victim of an unprovoked, racist murder by a gang of white youths in Eltham, south London, on April 22 1993.

And while some progress has been made since then, the battle had not been won, he said.

He wrote: "The elimination of racism remains a serious task for all of us. For racism is like an invidious and devastating cancer in society, attacking community structures and all its components.

"We may congratulate ourselves that it has been eradicated in one place and we can relax, but sadly it often turns up somewhere else, with slightly different characteristics - this time perhaps focused on asylum seekers, or eastern European workers. Wherever it is found it must be fought."

Dr Sentamu said the murder "reverberated through many lives, causing pain which cannot be calculated, this side of the grave".

He said: "As we remember Stephen's death at this time we need to renew our determination to rid our communities of racism, hatred, fear, ignorance, stereotyping, and the advantaging or disadvantaging of others because of their colour or ethnic origin."

There has been progress in these 20 years, the Archbishop said, "away from the ignorance, fear of difference and stereotyping, which were hallmarks of that crime and its investigation at the time".

That came due to the determination and courage of Mr Lawrence's parents Neville and Doreen who fought "tirelessly" to bring about justice, he said.