Partnership between DMU and UK libraries ensures more young people learn about the legacy of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence

A partnership between the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC) and libraries across the UK means more young people than ever before will be involved in marking national Stephen Lawrence Day on April 22.

The landmark Library of Birmingham – Europe’s biggest public library – is being lit up in orange in honour of Stephen, while all 16 libraries across Leicester have book displays of titles that celebrate diversity and a positive vision for the future.

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Dr Lisa Palmer and Sherilyn Pereira of the SLRC with Baroness Lawrence (centre), launching Stephen Lawrence Day 2022

Leicester libraries have organised a Who Am I? zone – a place where visitors can stick up a ‘post-it’ answering the theme question “Who Am I?” to explain their identities.

And there will be an evening of public speaking on Friday at Leicester’s Central Library in which 33 people, from children to adults, will read out speeches selected from dozens of entries answering the question ‘Who Am I?’.

A similar writing competition is being organised in the West Midlands and Birmingham is hosting a panel event featuring successful entrepreneurs from the second city to share experiences of creating a positive and long-lasting impact in their communities.

The collaborations with De Montfort University’s SLRC will see similar types of events happening in public libraries across the UK.

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The stunning landmark Library of Birmingham will be lit in orange on April 22

Sherilyn Pereira , Public Engagement Manager of the SLRC, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with libraries across the UK because they sit at the heart of all of our communities.

“Stephen’s story and Baroness Lawrence’s long fight for justice is as relevant today as it was 29 years ago when he was murdered by racists.

“A presence in these public spaces which have hundreds of thousands of people passing through their doors each week ensures we continue to have important conversations about race and social justice.”

It took Stephen’s mother Baroness Lawrence – the former Chancellor of DMU – and lawyer Imran Khan QC, 18 years to get a conviction against two of Stephen’s murderers.

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Stephen Lawrence Display at BRITE Centre, Braunstone - one of 16 city libraries involved

A subsequent independent inquiry by former High Court judge Sir William Macpherson concluded the police investigation into the killing had been “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”.

Like most 18-year-olds, Stephen had a passion for sport, particularly athletics, loved art and dreamed of a successful career, which in his case, was as an architect.

Since then Baroness Lawrence has used Stephen’s legacy to encourage young people to be inspired about what they can achieve in their own lives, create the kind of community they want to live in and have a strong voice in building a fairer and more inclusive society.

Part of that legacy exists through the creation of the SLRC which overlooks the DMU campus’s Hawthorn Square, while Theresa May MP, when Prime Minister in 2018, announced that every April 22 was to be a national Stephen Lawrence Day.

The SLRC plays a crucial role with the Stephen Lawrence Foundation organising events to mark the day.

You can hear the speeches at a free public event on Stephen Lawrence Day, April 22, at Leicester Central Library from 5.30pm to 8.30pm.

Posted on Thursday 21 April 2022

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