Stephen Lawrence

Twenty-seven years ago, on April 22, 1993, a young black teenager was waiting for a bus in south-east London with his friend. He was studying for his A-Levels and had dreams of becoming an architect.

Those dreams would never be realised, because that night he was stabbed to death in a racist attack by a gang of white youths.

It took almost 20 years for anyone to be jailed for his murder, thanks to a botched police investigation. The case changed Britain forever by highlighting its problems with racism — not just the attack itself, but also the institutional racism in the police force which delayed justice for the Lawrence family for so long.

His mother, Doreen Lawrence, said, “I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future. He was well loved, and had he been given the chance to survive maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white because he didn't distinguish between black or white. He saw people as people.”

The UK still has problems with knife crime and racism. Today, Stephen Lawrence Day is held on April 22 to encourage young people to “play an active role in building stronger communities in which everyone can flourish”.

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Assembly

Stephen’s mother Doreen is now a member of the House of Lords and chancellor of De Monfort University. In this video, she explains how she wants young people to remember her son on Stephen Lawrence Day.

Activities

  1. How can young people build stronger communities in honour of Stephen Lawrence this week? As a class, take it in turns to suggest ways that everyone can get involved.
  2. Why has knife crime been rising over the last few years? Discuss as a class and list a series of possible reasons.
  3. Watch this ten-minute video by BBC Teach on the murder of Stephen Lawrence and institutional racism in the police force. (Warning: racially abusive language and upsetting scenes.) Research and write your own report: has the police learned the lessons from the murder?