Stephen Lawrence Day: Over 30 Years On

22 Apr 2024

6 mins
For Stephen Lawrence Day 2023
For Stephen Lawrence Day 2023

Stephen Lawrence Day (22 April) gives schools the chance to explore a crucial part of our collective history; one that sheds light on racism, policing and criminal justice in the UK. It has now been over thirty years since 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack. 

Stephen's challenging but inspiring story 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, and is a subject that should be understood by young people of all ages. 

The day serves as a chance for reflection and remembrance, but also as a drive to continue fighting for the changes in racial attitudes and in policing practices that we still desperately need. After all, it was only last year that a report revealed the Metropolitan police to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.

Below, we've put together a collection of films and resources that can help you create a film-centred lesson plan to explore Stephen Lawrence Day.

In addition to our own resources, The Stephen Lawrence Foundation website houses more information on Stephen's story and offers a wide range of brilliant resources for classrooms, careers and communities.

On Into Film+, the three-part documentary series, Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation is available to stream for free*, and examines the events leading up to Stephen's murder, the police investigation and the landmark inquiry that exposed institutional racism within the police force. For more insight into the series, our 2018 Into Film Festival screening of the first episode featured a panel discussion with BBC journalist Chi Chi Izundu, director James Rogan, producer Asif Kapadia and Stephen's brother/former teacher Stuart Lawrence. Discover our various highlights from the event below.

Another essential film available to stream on Into Film+ is Stabbed: Britain's Knife Crime Crisis, which follows Duwayne Brooks; a friend of Stephen Lawrence who witnessed his fatal stabbing in 1993. Knife crime is on the rise in the UK and it is young peoples' lives that are being cut short, often by other teenagers. Brooks examines the causes of this growing violence and talks to both the perpetrators of violent crime and the families affected by it to try and understand the impact it has on the UK. As for Brooks, he still carries the trauma of losing his friend in such a horrific way; a sorrow that fuels him to educate others and fight institutional failures. It's a frank and personal examination of Britain's growing knife crisis.

Our Till: Mother of a Movement resource may focus on American history but it also draws interesting parallels between the murder of Emmett Till in the 1950s and Stephen's story; particularly the activism of their mothers who kept the image, story and legacy of their sons in the public consciousness through media coverage and campaigning against legal injustice. 

Last but not least, in our interview with Stuart Lawrence below, he discusses how the day aims to celebrate the legacy of his brother Stephen Lawrence and be a force for positive change by encouraging young people to consider how they can live their best lives.

* Screenings for an entertainment or extra-curricular purpose require a PVS (Public Video Screening) Licence from Filmbankmedia. State-funded schools in England are covered by the PVS Licence.

The core Into Film programme is free for UK state schools, colleges and other youth settings, thanks to support from the BFI, awarding National Lottery good cause funding, and through other key funders including Cinema First and Northern Ireland Screen.

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