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Category: Profiles 22 Apr 07


She will think this irrelevant but the first thing that struck me about Senator Angela Cropper when we met was how utterly beautiful she is.


The second thing that struck me, after she agreed to come to tea, was how unlike a local public figure she is, measured, reluctant to judge or make pronouncements—be it the aluminium smelter or politics.


She is shrewd and entirely uninterested in manipulating the media.


She’s dismissive of her own vast education. As if her training as a lawyer, an economist, an environmentalist and a UN officer have been mere tools that help her to carve out her life work—believing in and working towards social and economic justice, creating environmental awareness and encouraging young people to excel and give back.


Speak of this and she’s with you.


The third thing that I saw about Angela between the rainy day she delivered Lloyd Best’s eulogy, the sunny afternoon we met, and the bright morning she introduced me to the Cropper Foundation Fellows who share Cropper’s dream, is that she has stood up to the calamitous conspiracy of fate and human brutality that robbed her of a son, husband, mother and sister with a steady belief in humanity.


She told me she met her husband, John, an agricultural consultant, at 18. He, her mother and Best were the biggest influences in her life. Her face lit up as she spoke of John. As if he was still there, sitting next to her, nodding.


You can guess they were like-minded, kindred spirits. She carries him with her.


Ended badly


John was devoted to Angela’s mother. So in December 2001 when Maggie Lee didn’t feel well enough to travel to France to see her daughter Lynette Pearson, John, instead of joining Angela in Indonesia as planned, stayed back to take care of Lee, and host Pearson who came home instead to visit her mother.


The three of them weren’t even supposed to be there on December 11, 2001, when they were burgled and murdered at the Cropper’s Second Avenue Cascade home.


When the killers were handed the death sentence Angela Cropper instead of rejoicing fought mindless casual brutality with an unflinching humanity saying despite “the fear that grips us all... the more we stomach capital punishment the more inured we become to violence.


“John and my sister were against the death penalty. I can speak for them with confidence because of my knowing that, like me, they felt any killing, whether it is committed by an individual or by the State itself, is a step too far.”


We spoke of Angela’s son. In 1998, Dev Cropper at 20 was a brilliant student at the London School of Economics (LSE), a budding writer and activist campaigning against racism and the international arms trade.


He was a life member of the Student Union and worked with Action Against Hunger, which raises money for hunger relief in Africa. He “passed” she murmured … of an inexplicable heart attack.


Angela began the Dev Cropper Memorial Award at the LSE, which although it could have easily focused on Dev’s academic brilliance, chose to “recognise and assist students who share Dev’s commitment to the poor, exploited and forgotten.”


It could have ended badly with broken pieces everywhere. Instead, every day, Dev’s, John’s, Lee’s and Pearson’s lives and deaths are filled with meaning as Angela carries the shared Cropper vision across countries and borders, a bright blossom skimming parched land.


To be continued


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur