Stephen’s story

Stephen’s story is both challenging and inspirational. He was a normal young person who made the most of everyday opportunities. Although his life was short, Stephen provides a positive role model of a life well lived.

Stephen Lawrence was born and grew up in south-east London, where he lived with his parents Neville and Doreen, his brother Stuart and sister Georgina.

Like most young people, he juggled an active social life, school work, family commitments, and part-time employment. But he also had ambitions to use his talent for maths, art, and design to become an architect, and wanted to have a positive impact on his community.

Tragically, his dream of becoming an architect was never realised. On 22 April 1993, at the age of just 18, Stephen was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack. He didn’t know his killers and his killers didn’t know him.

After the initial police investigation, five suspects were arrested but not convicted. A public inquiry into the handling of Stephen’s case was held in 1998, leading to the publication of the Macpherson Report, which has been called ‘one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain’.

It led to profound cultural changes in attitudes to racism, to the law and to police practice. It also paved the way for a greater understanding of discrimination of all forms and new equalities legislation.

On 22 April 2013, there was a memorial service for Stephen commemorating 20 years to the day that he was killed. Speaking at the service, Baroness Lawrence said:

Justice for Stephen is about all of us, every one of us, in society having justice. There are still too many young people who do not have a sense of hope, who just don’t get the chance to live their dreams. I want all our children and young people to feel inspired, be confident and have hope in their own future. We are building hope but there is more to do.

Discover the pivotal moments from Stephen’s life and legacy by downloading our Stephen Lawrence Timeline (PDF).