Stephen Lawrence Day - lessons from a tragic death
Often in life it takes a tragedy to make a change - it's a sad state of affairs but usually it takes a major event in the world for something to shift.
I believe this is the case with Stephen Lawrence, the young black teenager who was stabbed to death in a racist attack in London 26 years ago - 22nd April 1993.
Today, the anniversary of his death, is the first national day of commemoration for Stephen. From now on every 22nd April will be dedicated to his memory.
But today is more than a tribute to a young life taken too soon - it's wider than that, this is about reminding all of us that racism has no place in our society.
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust - set up to help transform the lives of young people and campaign for social change - has two main aims:
1. To teach children the importance of respect for diversity, equality, inclusion and to challenge discrimination and racism.
2. To encourage schools, parents and the wider community to support such work and embrace these values too.
There has never been a time in human history when discrimination was right, despite human bigotry allowing it. And it still exists today and that's because despite the major strides our society has made in being more and more inclusive there are still people who believe the colour of one's skin matters more than the person inside.
Earlier this year we were reminded of Stephen's tragic death when the 20th anniversary of the Macpherson Report was marked.
This report looked at the police investigation into Stephen's death and subsequently found there had been "institutional racism" in the Metropolitan Police Force.
Reflecting on this anniversary Met Commissioner Cressida Dick said that it was the best thing to have happened to her organisation because it forced them to make drastic changes in how they reach out to all ethnic minorities.
But the finding didn't just sit with the Met Police, many institutions, beyond policing, have taken time to reflect of the findings.
Here in Wiltshire and Swindon, the police is working hard to ensure that it is inclusive. Only last week the Force launched its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy recognising that it's not perfect but good work is being done.
Also, this week sees the launch of Wiltshire Police's Hate Crime Awareness Campaign - encouraging the public to report this type of offensive illegal behaviour.
So positive changes have and are being made across the country but there is still more to do and that is why Stephen Lawrence Day is so important. An annual reminder of those values that The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust want each and every one of us to up hold in our modern world; values which I believe should be ingrained in all of us.
The only way to make a change is to learn from the past; and let us hope we do so a tragedy like Stephen Lawrence's can never ever happen again.
For more information about Stephen Lawrence Day please click on this link.