Young people are standing with Stephen Lawrence today as ambassadors tasked with ensuring his legacy continues across schools in Leicestershire.
In preparation for national Stephen Lawrence Day today, pupils from Winstanley School, Braunstone, and Countesthorpe Academy, took on the roles of Stephen Lawrence Ambassadors which have been created through the work of De Montfort University’s (DMU’s) Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC).
They join other ambassadors already representing schools across the city and county and said they were honoured to be able to continue to tell Stephen’s story, and have spoken passionately about how they can make a difference.
The SLRC was officially opened on the DMU campus in 2019 by Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the former Chancellor of DMU, and focusses on giving students and young people a voice to help create a society which treats everyone with fairness and respect.
Ambassador Damari Gray, 14, from Winstanley School, said: “I am proud because I can use my role to help educate people more and help people who are too scared or too shy to step up.
“It is not fair how people are treated because of their race. They did not choose how they are and how they look. Everyone should be respected.
“We need to have a better understanding about each other and I have to make sure that happens.”
Nao Mihell, 14, from Countesthorpe Academy, said: “I am incredibly proud that I am able to be a Stephen Lawrence Ambassador and be able to have a say about race and what it means to me. People still experience racism and being able to talk openly about it helps me realise I am not alone.”
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Amara Isi, 15, also from Countesthorpe Academy, added: “I really feel that being an ambassador gives me a purpose and it is far more than being about having debates and arguments with people in the classroom about race.
“Now I am getting involved in assemblies [about race] and I feel I am spreading the message more. I feel proud to be part of a network across many schools doing this.”
Namakau Sibongo, 13, from Winstanley School, added: “Being an ambassador encourages me to speak out. I have experienced racism and I want to help anyone who feels uncomfortable about it.
“I feel proud and responsible. I have to stand up for my people and educate others at the same time.”
Aryan Babhania, 13, from Countesthorpe Academy, said: “I became an ambassador because I want people to stop stereotyping me as an Indian.
“I think I can spread more awareness about different cultures and explain who I am as a person.”
Stephen was just 18 when he was tragically murdered by racists in an attack in South East London on 22 April 1993. In 2018, on the 25th anniversary of Stephen’s death, then Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a national day of commemoration in his name would take place on 22 April every year.
Baroness Lawrence still works with the SLRC and DMU students to continue Stephen’s legacy and has campaigned tirelessly for the last 29 years to promote a positive legacy in her son’s name. The SLRC and DMU also provide bursaries for students who would not normally have the opportunity or finances to go to university.
Speaking at DMU in 2019, Baroness Lawrence said: “I have not spent my years focusing on all the bad things, I don’t think I could have carried on if I had done that,” she said. “Instead I look forward and work to make change - and that’s what I hope the Stephen Lawrence Day will inspire others to do too, especially young people.”
It took Baroness Lawrence and her lawyer Imran Khan QC 18 years to finally see justice for Stephen when two men were found guilty of his murder and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which investigated why it took so long, found the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist.
Find out more about DMU's Stephen Lawrence Research Centre
Posted on Friday 22nd April 2022