The men who killed Stephen Lawrence went unpunished for 18 years--the same number of years their victim had lived. The black teenager was murdered in a racist attack at a London bus stop in 1993. Instead of chasing the white gang responsible, Scotland Yard officers on the scene interrogated one of Lawrence's friends. Investigators treated Lawrence's family with suspicion that shaded into hostility as his mother Doreen emerged as a powerful campaigner for justice. On Jan. 3, she finally secured what she called "some sort of justice": the murder convictions of Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, two members of the group that beat and stabbed her son to death.
Afterward his mother said she hoped people would now remember her son, an aspiring architect, "as a bright, beautiful young man." An architecture award in his name provides a reminder that he was more than a homicide statistic. But his biggest legacy was to change Britain. A 1999 inquiry into the original police investigation laid bare institutional racism in Scotland Yard, forcing reforms that improved policing in the British capital. Most important, the murder and its aftermath made many white Britons confront their own prejudices. But family celebrations of the convictions were muted. "There were five or six attackers that night," said Stephen's father Neville in a statement. "I do not think I'll be able to rest until they are all brought to justice."