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Campaigner encouraged by progress on racism

Doreen Lawrence, mother of the murdered black schoolboy and aspiring architect Stephen, said this week that the profession was beginning to tackle its inherent racism.

Lawrence - who has been campaigning to highlight the dearth of black architects since her son's death 10 years ago - said she was encouraged at the progress that had been made. 'It's been slow but something is being done, ' she said.

Work by the Stephen Lawrence Trust with both the RIBA and the Architectural Association was beginning to show results, she said.

'Like all institutions, they used to walk around with their eyes closed. But we are now working very closely with the RIBA and the AA and they've come a long way.'

Two black students are currently attending the AA with bursaries awarded by the Trust.

Lawrence told the AJ that plans for a new Stephen Lawrence Centre were close to being finalised. After difficulties raising sufficient funds to commission a new building, the trust has scaled down its ambitions and is now planning the refurbishment of an existing site. An announcement about the exact location of the site in south-east London would be made in the next few weeks, and an advert for an architect for the scheme placed in OJEC, she said.

The centre will work closely with secondary schools, providing mentors for aspiring black architects. It will also run courses to encourage young people to explore careers in art and design.

The trust, which aims 'to help black youngsters achieve their aims in life', has also been working with CABE on its research into racism in schools (see page 5), to discover when and why black students drop out of the education system.

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