Theresa May says Stephen Lawrence Day a reminder that 'racism still exists' in Britain
The murder of Stephen Lawrence forced Britain to "wake up to the reality of the racism that still exists in our society", Theresa May has said.
In a message marking the first annual Stephen Lawrence Day, the Prime Minister said the "watershed" killing of the 18-year old had reminded the country of the challenges still facing the country.
Stephen was stabbed by a racist gang, who also attacked his friend Duwayne Brooks, in South East London in 1993.
While David Norris and Gary Dobson were convicted of murder and are currently serving life sentences, the rest of the gang have never been caught.
Stephen's murder prompted the 1999 Macpherson inquiry, which said the killing had been "simply and solely and unequivocally motivated by racism" and exposed "institutional racism" within the Metropolitan police who investigated the attack.
Mrs May said: "Stephen's murder was a watershed moment for our country.
"It was a moment that demanded we wake up to the reality of the racism that still exists in our society and the obstacles that far too many young people live with every single day of their lives.
"It was a moment that demanded all of us work together to bring about positive change."
The Prime Minister last year announced that 22 April would mark an annual Stephen Lawrence Day, supported by the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust which campaigns to ensure lessons are learned from the killing.
Mrs May said of Stephen: "He was talented and much loved - and he had every reason to believe that he would go on to make the most of all that life has to offer.
"His life stands as an example. A reminder of the work we must do to ensure that young people, no matter what their background, are given every chance to fulfil their ambitions.
"And a reminder to all of us of the work we need to do to build a fairer and more inclusive society.
"That is what I hope this day will encourage us to do."
The Prime Minister also paid tribute to Stephen's parents Doreen and Neville, who had "fought heroically to ensure that their son's life and legacy is not forgotten".
She added: "Let us continue to learn the lessons of 26 years ago.
"Let us continue to build on all the good work that has been done since then.
"And let us ensure that Stephen's lasting legacy is a brighter, better future for many generations of children to come."
Writing in the Guardian, meanwhile, Doreen Lawrence said the UK still had "some way to go in creating a truly civilised British society that treats everyone with fairness and respect".
Baroness Lawrence added: "I hope that the first National Stephen Lawrence Day will help to drive forward an important national conversation about how we can all build a fairer and more inclusive Britain. But more importantly, I want this day to inspire our country’s future generation into living their best life – in the same spirit as Stephen."