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Stephen Lawrence Day

Updated: May 15

Photo Credit: BBC


“The death of Stephen Lawrence 


Has taught us to love each other 


And never to take the tedious task 


Of waiting for a bus for granted.”  


-Benjamin Zephaniah


Born in South East London, Stephen Lawrence was an aspiring architect who was talented at sports. He was born to Jamaican parents, Neville and Doreen Lawrence, who emigrated to the UK in the 1960s. On April 22, 1993, Stephen was the victim of an unprovoked racially motivated attack by white teenagers whilst waiting for a bus in Eltham, South London. Stephen was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital with two five-inch-deep stab wounds to his arm and chest. He was only eighteen years old. 

 

The tragedy of Stephen Lawrence's death shocked the nation and changed British law forever, revealing attitudes to racist crimes and the institutional racism of the Metropolitan Police. Despite the police beginning a surveillance operation on the prime suspects and making several arrests, the Crown Prosecution Service discounted the prosecution citing insufficient evidence. After the charges were dropped and years of public campaigning from Neville and Doreen Lawrence, the Macpherson Report was produced. Led by Sir William Macpherson, this report is described as "one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain". 

 

The groundbreaking 350-page report concluded that the investigation into the killing was "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership". The report also included 70 recommendations, to transform the attitude of the police towards race relations and tackle racist crimes effectively.


Based on fresh forensic analysis, Gary Dobson and David Norris were later convicted of Stephen's murder in 2012.  


These events provide a poignant reminder of how racism on an individual and institutional level continues to influence the lives of Black and Minoritised Ethnic (BME) communities in the UK.  



Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation 


Photo credit: Stephen Lawrence Day 


 "I hope that today, people from all walks of life will take a moment to consider how they can take an active role in building an inclusive society for everyone to live their best life, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religion, disability or background."


–Baroness Doreen Lawrence on the first national Stephen Lawrence Day, 2019


The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation is a registered charity. They are committed to creating a fairer society in which all young people, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to flourish. Their trustees include Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE and Stephen's sister, Georgina Lawrence.  


Baroness Lawrence, a prominent campaigner, has persistently advocated justice for her son and other victims of racially motivated crimes. Collaborating with the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Marco Goldschmied Foundation in 1998, she played a pivotal role in establishing the Stephen Lawrence Prize —an annual award and scholarship aimed at supporting younger architects. 


Today, we will remember Stephen Lawrence as a young person full of dreams with a tragically shortened life. We will be inspired by his parents and their public campaign for justice, reflect on the grief and pain that sparked outrage throughout the nation, and advocate for equality for all Black and Minoritised Ethnic lives, for those who are with us and those who are resting in peace. 




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