The legacy of Stephen Lawrence
RHS had the pleasure of hosting motivational speaker Stuart Lawrence, brother of Stephen Lawrence, who's tragedy left a legacy which provides an inspirational message we all could do with hearing. Religious Studies and Sociology pupils had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation delivered by The Hon. Stuart Lawrence himself as he spoke powerfully and passionately on associating his brother with change and positive impact, rather than 'the murder that changed a nation'.
For the benefit of those unaware of Stephen Lawrence's case, I will briefly explain the most significant events in his murder and their proceedings. On the 22nd of April 1993, 18 year old Stephen was stabbed to death in an unprovoked, racially motivated attack, waiting at a bus stop. From this point, the Metropolitan Police found themselves under increasing criticism regarding the handling of the case, leading to the publishing of the Macpherson Report in February 1999 which fundamentally argued that institutional racism was the primary reason for the failures and discrepancies in Stephen Lawrence's case.
The result of this, was the crucial change in the way that the police are required to investigate murders and support families. The most significant alteration of the judicial system was the scrapping of double jeopardy. This dropped the legal concept which prevented suspects being tried twice for the same crime.
That brings us back to today: Stephen Lawrence's legacy. Following his death, his family have worked tirelessly, advocating not only for justice in death but also for justice in life. The establishment of The Stephen Lawrence Foundation and Stuart Lawrence's influential visits to schools and businesses, aspire to achieve the positivity that Stephen himself was denied the opportunity to create. To Stuart, his brother was a source of light and someone he unwaveringly idolised; to the rest of the world, he is the face which manifests the ever more important need to put an end to discrimination in its every form.
Stuart Lawrence's main message through his addresses is, very simply, "to live your best life" as he encourages us to focus on the here and now. Stuart refuses to let his brother's murder be in vain and, through preaching tolerance and celebrating difference, he encourages us to make even the smallest difference, whether it be treating others how you yourself wish to be treated or having a meaningful conversation about what it means to live your best life. What will your legacy be and how will you achieve it?
In April 2018, it was concluded that the investigation into Stephen Lawrence's death was 'unlikely to progress', mainly due to a lack of DNA evidence and the police's exhaustion of every line of inquiry. Even so, the Lawrence family continue to campaign for implementing positive change, taking what it means to be human and doing everything in your power to enhance the experience for yourself and others.
There are many messages that I took from Stuart Lawrence's visit, from the importance of family to the irreplaceable value of time. However, I will leave you with just one phrase which truly resonated with me: "The secret to life is time, and love".