Turner Station celebrates legacy during Heritage Day celebration
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 13:04
 by Nicole Rodman

    Turner Station is a community built on the strength of its history and traditions.
    In an effort to recognize this history, and those who are a part of it, the community holds a celebration each August.
    This year, the Turner Station Heritage and Praise Day Celebration was held on Aug. 2 at Union Baptist Church.
    The event primarily honors Henrietta Lacks, a former Turner Station resident whose cells have changed history.
    Born in Virginia, Lacks moved to Turner Station with her family in 1941.
    She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951. Just a few months later, she died of the disease.
    During her treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a sample of her cells were harvested without her or her family’s knowledge or consent.
    Since then, the unusually prolific cells have been used to develop treatments for diseases such as polio, cancer and AIDS.
    In an effort to offer Lacks and her family the recognition that eluded them for so long, Turner Station honors Lacks during the Heritage and Praise Day event.
    Last Saturday’s celebration kicked off  as Turner Station Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack 270 presented the flag and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
    Dr. Adele Newson-Horst, vice president of the Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group, was on hand to offer an update on the group’s efforts.
The group’s accomplishments have included placing a commemorative plaque on Lacks’ former home in Turner Station, nominating Lacks for the National Women’s Hall of Fame and coordinating a Black History Month essay contest.
    As usual, CCBC professor Michael Walsh offered an update on the school’s Henrietta Lacks scholarships and endowment.
    Last fall, CCBC awarded its first four Lacks scholarships to CCBC students studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
    Led by Walsh, CCBC continues to raise funds towards the goal of establishing a $100,000 endowment in Lacks’ name.
    “For as long as CCBC Dundalk is around ... we will be able to give a scholarship in her name,” Walsh noted.
    During the event, Lacks’ grandson David Lacks Jr. (who also served as the day’s master of ceremonies) read remarks prepared by Lacks’ son, Lawrence.
    Lawrence, who was 16 when Lacks died, offered memories of his mother.
    “She was more to us than a cell in a laboratory,” he wrote.
    Also on hand was Theodore Mack, chairman of the Maryland Commission on African-American History and Culture.
    Mack presented a proclamation on behalf of Gov. Martin O’Malley declaring Aug. 2, 2014, Henrietta Lacks Day in Maryland.
    Following the ceremony, the crowd adjourned to the corner of Main Street and Sollers Point Road where honorary street signs bearing the names of community pioneers Anthony Thomas and Dr. Joseph “Doc” Thomas were unveiled.
    Anthony Thomas first came to Turner Station in the 1880s. An entrepreneur, Thomas established the first building and loan association owned by an African-American in Baltimore County.
    His son, Doc Thomas, was both a physician and entrepreneur.
    In addition to serving as a community doctor for more than 50 years, Doc Thomas built the Anthony Theater, Edgewater Beach Amusement Park and owned a semi-professional baseball team.
    Following the unveiling of the street signs, the day’s festivities continued at the Community Post.
    Though the celebration has concluded, the contributions of Turner Station’s many notable residents will continue to be recognized and remembered.