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Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks will be honored as an Inductee to this year’s National Women’s Hall of Fame on December 10, 2020 during a virtual ceremony moderated by academic and activist Dr. Angela Davis. According to Induction Chair, Sujatha Ramanujan, “The 2020 induction is the inaugural event of our brand new Virtual Induction Series designed to rectify historical and organizational shortcomings.”

The Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group (HLLG) has consistently nominated Mrs. Lacks for the awards for the past 5 years. According to Courtney Speed, founder and president of the Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group, “We are so grateful and appreciative to those who helped in the process, and as we go forward with other projects, we pray for the continued support of the community.”

According to Devon Brown, HLLG Board Member and attorney, “HeLa cells are playing a huge role in the development of a vaccine for COVID-19. The entire world should take notice.”

“I think it is fantastic! I think it is awesome, and I think it is long overdue because her cells have done so much for the world. For years, there was very little recognition of her contributions and it is such an honor for the family,” remarked Shirley Lacks, daughter-in-law of Mrs. Lacks and HLLG Board Member.

In 2014, Mrs. Lacks was admitted to the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2017 Baltimore County designated a street in Turner Station as Henry Lacks Place. In 2018, the Virginia State Legislature unanimously passed a bill that would examine the feasibility of creating the Henrietta Lacks Life Science Research and Cancer Treatment Center in Southern Virginia through the establishment of a Commission.

The four primary programs of HLLG include its Annual Luncheon (October), Steelworkers Program (April), Annual Essay and Video Competition (December), and its Tourism program—all disrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Yet another ongoing project is the commemorative postage stamp petition to the National Postal Service and the fundraising efforts to put a wax figure of Mrs. Lacks in the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum.

HLLG is a non-profit 501 © (3) organization that exists to protect, preserve, and promote the legacy of Henrietta Lacks and her contributions to modern medicine (via HeLa Cells) while also encouraging conversations around health equity. It also exists to support activities that extend Lacks’ legacy and historic Turner Station, Maryland, where Lacks resided at the time of her death.

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