Rt Honourable Stuart Lawrence - 7 October 2019
Stuart Lawrence, brother of Stephen Lawrence, came to give a talk at our school and told us that he was aiming to talk at all 27,000 schools in England so that they can all be informed on this issue that is so close to his heart. Stuart Lawrence encouraged us, as pupils, to be aware that “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” Nelson Mandela, this quote he told us was the reason why he decided to become a teacher.
Stuart Lawrence began by telling us about the previous insignificance of the bus stop he used to walk past every day, now he says he actively tries to avoid it because it was the place his brother Stephen Lawrence, who was violently murdered in an attack fuelled by racism, died. Even though Stuart evidently finds Stephen’s death something very difficult to talk about how he has made it his mission to speak out and try and make sure that young people know the importance of tolerance.
Stuart said that since the day his brother died he has been actively trying to live his life by following The Golden Rule of Life: to always treat others the way you would like to be treated. It wasn’t until Stuart was 21 years old, he said, that he really understood the idea that someone could so selflessly give themselves to a cause for the greater good because, if we as people only respect those who have previously respected us, then how do we meet any new people.
Stuart then spoke about success and what he believed it to look like. Stuart explained that at an age like ours, sixteen to eighteen years old, he had thought that success was something that could be measured in material things, however, he has now come to realise that success is something made out of the small things that money cannot buy: family, friends and happiness.
Stephen’s death clearly had a huge impact on Stuart’s life and because of this, he has also decided to talk about the ripple effect of any one person’s actions. The fact that one person’s actions might not just affect their immediate family but the whole world, much like Stephen’s case, means that every person has a huge responsibility to behave in a way that is beneficial to the community and not harmful to it.
Stuart has met some wonderful and inspirational people in his life; he said the most moving one was Nelson Mandela. Arguably, Stuart said, the fact that Nelson Mandela himself commented on the sheer horror of Stephen’s case is what moved the government to actively make a change. Nelson Mandela said of Stephen’s murder that while in South Africa he was aware that people viewed black lives as unimportant, it was shocking to see that in the UK a black life could be as equally unimportant. This statement changed the false narrative surrounding Stephen’s murder, that it was because he was part of a gang or a drug dealer as some had previously claimed.
Stuart concluded by saying that since Stephen’s death things have moved in a better way, through the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust he has helped 250 students into architectural courses, 6 of whom are working in architectural firms. The initiative is also beginning to help pupils into journalism and law, and he hopes to continue to help many young people all over England.
It was most definitely a very moving assembly for the pupils and Stuart himself.