A programme of events at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence, as well as national celebrations recognising his ongoing legacy, have been announced.
The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC), which overlooks DMU’s Hawthorn Square, was officially opened by Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence - former Chancellor of DMU - in 2019.
Since then it has been at the heart of national and international conversations about race and social justice as well as the home to an exhibition space telling the story of Stephen’s life and death and his family’s fight for justice.
Visitors to the centre have included former Home Secretary Jack Straw - who as Home Secretary in 1997 commissioned the Macpherson Inquiry into the failures of the police investigating Stephen’s murder - revolutionary poet Benjamin Zephaniah and broadcaster Afua Hirsch, who were all present at the centre’s launch. The exhibition attracts visitors from across the country and internationally.
Baroness Lawrence officially opens the research centre in 2019
Thousands of schoolchildren and DMU students have also used the centre to learn about Stephen and advance the call for social justice from a new generation of young people, while staff from the centre have visited thousands more children in schools to talk about Stephen’s story and legacy.
Three full-time researchers, called Legacy in Action Fellows, are carrying out important work about Black and Asian lives in the UK today, while grants are awarded each year to DMU students who have overcome adversity and might otherwise have been unable to attend university.
The academics behind the centre - in conjunction with Baroness Lawrence’s Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation - have now announced plans for events in and around DMU as well as in London and Manchester to mark the 30th anniversary of Stephen’s murder which will be on April 22, 2023.
There will be an SL30 Podcast series, a SLRC In Conversation series at DMU and, in collaboration with The University of Manchester and The University of Greenwich, there will be a national art and reading challenge aimed at children and young people involving schools and libraries across the UK. There will also be an inaugural Stephen Lawrence Research Centre Annual Lecture. The programme will also raise awareness of the Stephen Lawrence archive donated to DMU by Baroness Lawrence.
The Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation is also leading on a number of high profile events which will take place across London throughout the year.
Baroness Lawrence on campus in 2019 to discuss National Stephen Lawrence Day
Baroness Lawrence, who was Chancellor of DMU for four years, said: “The 22nd April 2023 is a significant milestone for us all.
“I am particularly proud of the important work that has been done in Stephen’s name through the partnership between the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre and the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation.
“Our joint work in classrooms and communities has had a significant impact on the lives of young people across the UK and beyond.
“As we reflect on the progress we have made, we must simultaneously look forward, with the knowledge that there is now more work to be done than ever if we are to continue to strive for a fairer, kinder and more equitable society for all.”
Professor Katie Normington, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University said: “The 30th anniversary of Stephen’s death is an opportunity to really examine how our society has changed in the years since that tragedy, and consider the changes we still want to see in the future.
“We are truly proud that DMU is home to the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre. The energetic work and social engagement it continues to undertake both locally and nationally is embodied in the breadth and creativity of the events it is leading on for this anniversary.”
Stephen was murdered by racists in an unprovoked attack in 1993
Associate Professor and Interim Director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, Dr Lisa Palmer, said: “To commemorate Stephen’s life and the ongoing power of his legacy, the SLRC will deliver a compelling programme of activity.
“With our trusted partners at The Stephen Lawrence Foundation, this commemorative time will be of huge national and international importance in honour of Stephen’s life and his family’s ongoing fight for justice.”
Stephen was murdered by racists in South London in an unprovoked attack on April 22, 1993, when he was just 18 years old.
It took his mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence – the former Chancellor of DMU – and lawyer Imran Khan QC, 18 years to get a conviction against two of Stephen’s murderers.
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”.
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 Stephen Lawrence Research Centre (SLRC) at DMU.Theresa May, when Prime Minister in 2018, announced that every April 22 will be a national Stephen Lawrence Day.
Follow @SLRCDMU on Twitter to find out more about getting involved.
And visit this link to read more about the SLRC and its work
Posted on Tuesday 1st November 2022