4th December 2020

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Lewis Hamilton recalls sickening racist abuse and being told “go back to your country”

Lewis Hamilton has vowed to continue to fight against racial injustice after being named the most influential black person in Britain.

Hamilton, who at the weekend became a seven-time Formula One world champion, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record, recently topped the Powerlist 2021, the annual list of the most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage in the UK.

Hamilton was recognised for his achievements both on and off the track, having campaigned against racism throughout 2020.

He is the first sports star in the list’s 14-year history to claim the top spot.

Earlier this week, Hamilton declared that becoming the most decorated driver in F1 history “doesn’t mean anything” unless he continues to lead the fight against racism in the sport.

As the sport’s only black driver, Hamilton has been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, encouraging competitors to kneel with him before each race and convincing Mercedes to change the livery of its cars from silver to black.

Hamilton celebrates in Istanbul over the weekend

He also established the Hamilton Commission, which is aimed at improving the representation of black people in motor sport.

Now, speaking on BBC News on Thursday morning, the 35-year-old opened up on incidents during his childhood that continue to shape his desire to see positive change, as he told youngsters to never give up on their dreams.

Hamilton said: “There are these races where there’s got to be a moment of doubt.

“For the kids out there who dream the impossible, do not give up on that dream because I am living proof that you can manifest your dreams and even the impossible ones.

“I remember as a kid adults, teachers, parents of other drivers telling me that I would not make it.”

Hamilton has more race wins than any other driver in F1 history

Indeed, in recounting one incident, Hamilton detailed being told: “You’re not going to make it, go back to your country.”

He added: “All these horrible things and I remember thinking I’m going to prove you wrong.

“The message is for all the kids out there who feel they don’t have a voice and might be dreaming of something or want to dream big.”

Hamilton speaking on BBC on Thursday

Hamilton said he had been “humbled” to accept his honour at the Black Excellence Awards recently and also reflected also reflected on the worldwide protests against racism that erupted following the death of George Floyd in May.

“Racism is something I’ve always spoken out about but there have been times when I felt I was pushing up against a system that was so big that it would never change. And then 2020, it happened.

Hamilton is using his platform to create positive change

“This year has been a really difficult one in so many ways and the constant stories of racial injustice has been traumatising for many of us.

“But as a community we have responded in a way that has been incredibly inspiring. In my life I have never seen so many people stand up and take a stand against injustice.

“And it is the power of our community, holding mass protests and making their voices heard that sparked this global movement.

“To be nominated as your number one most influential person in a year like this is not something I take lightly.”

He added: “I promise you I will keep fighting alongside you until our voices are heard and until we live in a world that treats everyone equally, no matter their background or the colour of their skin.”




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