Young men who kill. That’s how I’d initially heard of Angela Cropper. When
two young men, one just 17, murdered her husband John, sister Lynette
Pearson and 83-year-old mother Maggie Lee.
In 1988, her
son Dev (ten O-Levels and four A-Levels with distinctions) was studying at
the London School of Economics. He was a writer for the school newspaper and
was deeply involved in international issues of politics and justice.
forgot those who were poor, exploited and forgotten. He suffered from no
shortage of humility or compassion,” wrote Kevin Thompson, a close friend of
Dev since childhood, on the Cropper Foundation Web site.
Dev died of
sudden heart failure two months before writing his final undergraduate
exams. Only 20 years old, he was gone, allowing the world a glimpse of his
decided that Dev’s beliefs of social justice were universal seeds to be
cultivated. They started the Dev Cropper Memorial Award—a financial grant to
a third-year student at London School of Economics through the student
union, which acknowledges, encourages and celebrates contributions by
students for social work.
taking a cue from the Croppers, the university also contributed two awards
for social work to students.
recipient of the Dev Cropper Award in 1999, was Brendan Cox, a government
student who was recently here to join other Cropper Fellows—Elizabeth
Solomon, Juliet Solomon, Austin Fido and Julie Lithgow—to network for social
justice and equity.
just talk justice. He lives it.
“I was 17
years old when I got involved with LSC Labour club. In my first and second
years I did a lot of voluntary work with a homeless charity in London. An
English teacher who had been going out to the former Yugoslavia to work with
children traumatised by civil war got me there. Most of their parents were
killed. They were living in bunkers and deeply traumatised.
thing like playing Frisbee with them showed me how you can make a big impact
on people in small ways.
the Dev Cropper Memorial grant in 1999. That summer I used the money to base
myself in Bosnia for five months to run camps for children in different
parts of Yugoslavia.
Cropper award empowered me. I got my degree but academia was a doorway to
allowing me to have a bigger impact on the world.”
“Those of us
who are fortunate have a responsibility to give back... You may not change
the world but you can change the way you engage with it.”
Dev “was everywhere, active in student and labour politics, volunteering
with charities. He was very vocal, articulate and prone to activity.”
Solomon, journalist, UN worker and a friend of the Croppers felt “lucky to
have the powerful influence of Angela and John in her life.”
together with “like-minded people with different perspectives have added
passion to our work of bringing about social justice.”
How does a society produce mindlessness,
brutality? It’s always been about the mentoring. Angela has recognised that.
She will not campaign, nor do PR. It’s not her style. But I will plead with
our UWI principals to push an articulate passion in our young people to
change the way they engage with the world—Cropper style. Hold up students
who are passionate, articulate and care to the light. In these times, that’s
worth more than the Nobel.