The inaugural Stephen Lawrence Day has been a great success, with schools and community groups across the country engaging with Baroness Lawrence’s call to action: for everyone to be the best that they can be, and to live our best life by making our communities better and safer places.
We were overwhelmed and humbled by the many responses to the day and the wide range of activities that were held in Stephen’s name. Here are just a few examples of Stephen Lawrence Day activities that took place.
The Chineke! Foundation, founded in 2015 by double-bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku, provide career opportunities to young Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) classical musicians in the UK and Europe. To mark the first Stephen Lawrence Day their flagship Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s first classical ensemble to comprise mostly of Black and Ethnic members, held a concert at the Southbank Centre in London. Performing works by BME composers such as Errollyn Wallen, Philip Herbert, Jessie Montgomery and Avril Coleridge-Taylor, the concert included a rendition of Philip Herbert‘s ‘Elegy in Memoriam of Stephen Lawrence’, composed in 1999 as a response to the news about Stephen’s tragic death and written to represent each of the 18 years of Stephen’s life.
Preceding the concert was a panel discussion on the subject of social injustice, gang culture and racial inequality, moderated by Emma Dabiri (Social Historian, Writer & Broadcaster) with speakers including Imran Khan QC, Dean Atta (poet and writer), Gus Nwanokwu (teacher, manager & author), Sophie Linden (Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime) and Chi-chi Nwanoku.
The Chineke! Junior Orchestra, made up of players aged 11-18, also performed earlier that day, conducted by Stephanie Childress.
James Allen Girls School
James Allen Girls School in south London held an entire Stephen Lawrence week, jam-packed with different activities. From tailored lessons inspired by Stephen’s life and legacy and a beautiful art installation at the school’s entrance, to in-depth assemblies about his story and how to ‘live their best lives’ led by year 13 students as well as Stuart Lawrence, JAGS has been very busy celebrating Stephen Lawrence Day.
The school library created two fantastic displays – one focused on architecture, as Stephen was an aspiring architect, and one on books which celebrate diversity (examples of some of these can be found in our annotated reading lists). Students also marked the day by wearing orange, and even ‘walked a mile for Stephen’ alongside staff one lunchtime, a reflection of Stephen’s love of running. These very simple things were extremely effective, and got the whole school involved in the day.
Nottingham VPC event
In Nottingham, the Voluntary Police Cadets held an event on the 27th April at Bulwell Academy to mark Stephen Lawrence Day. Multiple speakers, including the Trust’s Head of Programmes, spoke to young people about the importance of being socially active citizens and building stronger, safer communities. Young people also had the opportunity to get involved in a number of activities, including sports, crafts and trying Caribbean food, as well as watching the music and dance entertainment.
The Prince’s Trust
The Prince’s Trust hosted an event which brought young people together to think about what it meant to them to ‘Live Our Best Life’. They shared their stories and discussed the positive contributions young people make to their communities and societies with Nick Hurd MP and Stuart and Baroness Lawrence speaking about how they can play a bigger part in the creation of a society where everyone can thrive.
Some students taking part in the Prince’s Trust’s Team programme presented an idea for a social action project refurbishing a community centre in south London, while two Young Ambassadors spoke about their experiences with youth violence and how it impacts communities as well as the affect it can have on societal perceptions of young people.
Thank you to everyone who got involved and helped to make this year’s Stephen Lawrence Day such a success, and a special thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund for their generous support.