22 April marks the day that Stephen Lawrence – a black British man from Eltham in London – was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in 1993.
When you mention his name, it bears not only one of the highest profile racial killings in UK history; but also points at the cultural changes to attitudes on racism and the police within the UK. What is poignant in this case is how 20 years went past before two of the perpetrators were convicted in 2012.
On the day he was murdered, Stephen was 18-years-old. He would have turned 42 this year, had the gang of white youths at a bus stop not set upon him, while on his way home with his friend, Duwayne Brooks in 1993.
Not only did his death spark a nationally televised fight for justice; it later exposed the failings of the police and serves as a disturbing reminder that the fight against racism must persevere.
Stephen’s mother, Doreen, has tirelessly campaigned for justice since her eldest son’s death.
“Even though he was an extrovert when he was alive, I think he would be somewhat shy to see how much his name permeates across the world.
“It’s not just in this country that his name is so recognised. Although he may be embarrassed, at the same time he would still think it was great”, Doreen told a London paper before.
Just over 4 years ago, on 4 January 2012, Gary Dobson and David Norris were sentenced to a total of 29 years for his murder. It is believed the pair was part of a larger group of up to six attackers, who are yet to be convicted.
An English Heritage-approved memorial, organised by the Nubian Jak Community Trust, was unveiled at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in 2013.
The memorial is one of only three blue plaques of its kind dedicated to individuals who lost their lives in tragic circumstances. The first commemorated Kelso Cochrane and the second honoured the victims of the 1981 New Cross Fire.
With the help of his family and friends and advocates for justice, Stephen’s legacy will live on.