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Equal worth of all people highlighted at 'optimistic' debate on racism

Progress has been made in the fight against racism in Britain, but there is still much more to do - a message from a Cathedral floor debate looking at discrimination today.

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King preaching from the pulpit of St Paul's, St Paul's Forum together with the Runnymede Trust hosted the debate, How can we end racism today?, on Thursday, 4 December.

In front of an audience which filled the space under the Cathedral's dome, the Dean of St Paul's, The Very Reverend David Ison, chaired the panel of distinguished speakers: 

Baroness Doreen Lawrence of Clarendon OBE
Dr Heidi Mirza, Professor of Race, Faith & Culture, Goldsmiths College
Hugh Muir, Diary Editor, The Guardian
An introduction to the evening was given by Corey Samuel of the Renaissance Foundation.


Heidi Mirza said that her father would have been proud that she was on a stage speaking at St Paul's but heartbroken that the subject was 'racism today'. She left the audience with the thought that today Britain needs visionary and courageous leaders to help end racism.

Hugh Muir posed the question of what Dr King would think of today's Britain, saying he would be "astounded' that "Britain once ruled most of the world but now most of the world lives in Britain". He highlighted the importance of optimism but echoed the sentiment that we need strong leaders to help end injustices in areas of life such as employment, policing and justice.

He added: "We haven't made as much progress as he [Dr King] would have liked. We haven't made as much progress as we would have liked. But we have made progress."

Baroness Lawrence spoke movingly about her son, Stephen, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993, asking aloud "Where would Stephen be now?"

She mentioned the humanity that was present in all Dr King's teaching, adding: "There is good in everybody. I don't hold hate for the men who took my son's life or I will become like them", and "Blame leads to blame, anger to anger, violence to violence."

Questions from the audience looked a lot at how our political system must be at the heart of change, but also how us as individuals must do our part.


Event press:
Hugh Muir writes in the Guardian
Dr Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust write for Huffington Post
Church of England blog

The Runnymede Trust also launched its new report: