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Clover Graham gave her life to the downtrodden

BY AINSWORTH MORRIS

Sunday, September 30, 2012    

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CARING, gentle, polite, loving, and faithful were some of the adjectives used by mourners to describe attorney-at-law Clover Maxine Graham, 56, who was found dead on August 19.

The thanksgiving service celebrating the life and works of the Jamaican-born, Britain-raised attorney was held on September 5 at the University Chapel on the campus of the University of the West Indies, Mona.

Glowing tributes flowed from both Jamaicans and citizens of the United Kingdom, who were close to Graham over her illustrious years.

The first was offered by Dr Carol Archer, Dean of the Faculty of Built Environment at the University of Technology, one of several educational institutions where Graham worked.

"About 10 o'clock last night I sat to write a tribute. And in writing the tribute it meant that I had to accept that Clover is no longer with us. To be honest with you, I am still in the phase of trying to accept. I sat there staring at the blank screen and I heard myself asking, 'Dear God, please help me to write something' she was such a phenomenal woman," said Archer.

But, as Archer put it, Graham's story was already written, "so because it is already written, I will share this with you," she said, before reciting two poems which she said she believed summarised Graham's life.

A collection of performances followed by students of the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts the song Fly Away Home and a rendition of A Change is Going to Come by Sister Peggy.

Shortly before her death, Graham served the Norman Manley Law School as a tutor and was employed to the Legal Aid Clinic in Kingston. She also worked as a United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) honorary liaison officer in Jamaica.

The staff at the law school remembered Graham, "for her quiet disposition, for her serenity and her wisdom".

According to Carol Aina, acting principal, Norman Manley Law School, Graham was a woman who, for decades has been committed to defending people, mainly black, who were wrongly accused in the United Kingdom.

"I knew Clover from we were young women in South London. We both qualified as solicitors working in law centres together. Clover was a coordinator of the Brixton Legal Defence Group. She made sure that every young person arrested after the riots in Brixton had access to legal representation. She was at the forefront coordinating all those activities," Aina said.

Graham migrated to the United Kingdom at the age of 6.

Aina added that Graham was extremely passionate about education.

She reflected on the way Graham worked extremely hard, especially on Saturdays, in the classroom, and in building a school called 'A Fi We' in London before returning to Jamaica.

Amidst her fight with numerous cases defending those wrongly accused and marginalised, her biggest court battle was that of the conviction of the men accused of murdering her son, Taiwo McKenzie and his girlfriend, Janelle Whyte, in 2008.

They were found dead on November 9 in bushes at Mount Salus, Red Hills, with their throats slashed.

In addition to tributes, numerous individuals, such as Trishauna McGowan from the St Andrew High School for Girls and Vincent Cochetel of the UNHCR offered remembrances.

Remembrances from citizens of the UK who knew Graham were also read at the service.

Graham was found dead in a field at the Caymanas Polo Club with her throat slashed. Her death leaves a void in the hearts of her husband, two daughters, mother, brothers, sisters, other relatives and friends.

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