Stephen Lawrence Day 2020: How you can support the national commemoration

‘Justice for Stephen is about all of us, every one of us, in society having justice,’ says Baroness Doreen Lawrence

Matt Mathers
Wednesday 22 April 2020 09:38 BST

Stephen Lawrence Day is held on 22 April each year to commemorate the life of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in 1993.

At a service to mark the 25th anniversary of Mr Lawrence’s death in 2018, then prime minister Theresa May announced that Stephen Lawrence Day would become an annual national commemoration.

Lawrence’s death marked a watershed moment in cultural life and race relations in the UK.

Since 1993, wide-ranging changes have been made to policing and the law thanks to the tireless efforts of Lawrence’s parents, Baroness Doreen Lawrence and Neville Lawrence.

Here, we reflect on why it’s important to remember Lawrence’s life, what has changed since his death, and how you can support the day.

Who was Stephen Lawrence?

Lawrence was born in Greenwich and raised in Plumstead, south-east London, to Jamaican parents who had emigrated to the UK in the 1960s.

He was the eldest of three children and attended Blackheath Bluecoat School where he excelled at sport and had been preparing for his A-levels.

At school, Lawrence had been studying technology, physics and English language and had aspirations of becoming an architect.

What has changed since Stephen’s death?

A public inquiry into Lawrence’s murder was announced by the Labour government in 1998 - five years after Lawrence's death.

Chaired by Sir William Macpherson, the inquiry concluded that the Met Police investigation into Lawrence’s death had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”.

This lead to fundamental changes in how police forces across the UK investigate murders and the treatment of the victims of crime.

The Macpherson report also resulted in an overhaul of the police disciplinary and complaints system, enhanced powers to inspect forces and measures to promote diversity and tackle racism in schools.

In total, the inquiry made 70 recommendations to the government. The Home Office says 66 of these have been fully or partly implemented.

In May 2019, De Montfort University launched its Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, with the aim of continuing his legacy as an educational resource for anyone interested in topics around race, racism and social justice.

“The Macpherson Report drew our attention to areas around policing but that is a narrow way of thinking about how that term works,” said Dr Hammond Perry, director of the centre.

“There is a lot more to know about the different ways institutional racism impacts different communities. We want to unravel the complexities and how it plays out in different arenas, whether its education or healthcare…there is a broad conversation to be had.”

Why is it important to remember Stephen’s life?

In 2012, Baroness Lawrence launched the Stephen Lawrence Trust to provide a positive legacy for her son.

“Justice for Stephen is about all of us, every one of us, in society having justice,” said Baroness Lawrence at memorial service in 2013.

“There are still too many young people who do not have a sense of hope, who just don’t get the chance to live their dreams.

“I want all our children and young people to feel inspired, be confident and have hope in their own future. We are building hope but there is more to do.”

The Stephen Lawrence Trust says 22 April marks an opportunity for everyone to think about the part they can play in creating a society in which all can flourish.

“It is an opportunity for children and young people have their voices heard, make the changes they’d like to see and create a society that treats everyone with fairness and respect.”

How to get involved in Stephen Lawrence Day 2020

The Stephen Lawrence Trust says “this year, in particular, [...] is a chance to show how small changes and simple things that we can all do can make a huge difference.”

Due to the ongoing social distancing advise from the government, many events due to take place today have been cancelled.

But there are a number of other ways people can get involved to show their support by writing poetry, sending messages of support and using the power of social media to remember Lawrence’s legacy.

Watch and share the “Because of Stephen” film

This film was created to encourage and inspire young people to take positive action to live their best life. You can watch the video by following this link.


You can help commemorate Lawrence’s life by sharing what difference his legacy has made to your life. You could take a photo of yourself holding a personalised message and share this on your social media accounts.


The Stephen Lawrence Trust has set three different challenges to help people remember his legacy.

These include: do good (a simple act of kindness to help others in your community); get creative (express what living your best life looks like for you through your chosen artform); or share the learning (find out about Stephen’s story and share it). Choose the challenge that suits you, or, if you’re feeling ambitions, why not do all three?

To find out more about Stephen Lawrence’s legacy or other ways you can support the day visit

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