Another truly significant person from Turner Station was Mrs. Henrietta Lacks, a classic World War II era Turner Station woman. She was married to a steelworker, living with her family at 713 New Pittsburgh Avenue. She had moved to Turner Station from Clover, Virginia when her husband took a job at the Bethlehem Steel plan at Sparrows Point. In 1951, after visiting Dr. William Wade in Turner Station, she was referred to Johns Hopkins hospital for tests….Henrietta’s family knew nothing about the great medical Accomplishment until 1969. (37)
Kelly, Jacques. The Baltimore Sun
Roberts, Dorothy. Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race In the Twenty-First Century.
In her work Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century Dorothy Roberts explains:
“Before Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in 1951 in a colored “clinic patient” ward at the Johns Hopkins charity hospital, a doctor cultured the cells from her cervix without her consent. Her cells, known by scientists as HeLa, had the amazing ability to reproduce endlessly and prolifically, providing material for more than sixty thousand scientific studies that contributed to a wealth of medical advances from the polio vaccine to chemotherapy and in vitro fertilization. While the HeLa cells enabled a lucrative biomedical industry, the Lacks children, who were not informed for decades about the fate of their mother’s tissue, struggled with inadequate health care. The injustice is capture in the words of Lacks’s daughter: ‘I would like some health insurance so I don’t got to pay all that money every month for drugs my mother’s cells probably helped make.’ The story of Henrietta Lacks reflects the horrible history of medical exploitation and neglect of African American that has been reinforced by the view that their bodies are intrinsically inferior. But her story also defies the belief in inherent racial differences. Her cells, although they came from a black woman, helped to improve the health of human beings the world over and testify to our common humanity” (103).
Rogers, Michael. “The Double-Edged Helix.” Rolling Stone, March 25, 1976, 48-51.
Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
• Skloot, Rebecca. “Enough with Patenting the Breast Cancer Gene,” Slate’s Double X (2009)
• Skloot, Rebecca. “Taking the Least of You, ” The New York Times Magazine (2006)
• Skloot, Rebecca. “Henrietta’s Dance,” Johns Hopkins Magazine (2000)
Awards and Recognition
In reverse chronological order, local, state, national and international recognition of Mrs. Henrietta Lacks includes:
2022 Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., filed a bill to posthumously honor Lacks with the Congressional Gold Medal.
2021 A life-size bronze statue of Lacks was unveiled at Bristol University in the U.K. in honor of the 70th anniversary of the cells first being used in research.
2021 The city council of Roanoke, Virginia – where Lacks was raised – voted to name a portion of Lee Plaza after her.
2018 The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery recognized the life of Henrietta Lacks with the installation of a 2017 portrait by Kadir Nelson.
2018 The Virginia state legislature unanimously passed a bill that would create The Henrietta Lacks Commission to examine the feasibility of creating the Henrietta Lacks Life Science Research and Cancer Treatment Center in Southern Virginia.
2017 Baltimore County designated a street in Turner Station, Maryland, “Henrietta Lacks Place.”
2017 The state of Maryland designated part of highway 695 in Dundalk, Maryland “Henrietta Lacks Way.”
2017 The state of Maryland designated the 1st Saturday in August as “Henrietta Lacks Day.”
2017 Television movie on HBO: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” starring Oprah Winfrey.
2017 The Henrietta Lacks (HBO) HeLa Project Exhibit: “The Mother of Modern Medicine” has traveled to several states.
2017 Exhibit honoring Henrietta Lacks kicked off 13-city tour in Washington, D.C. at the African American Health Equity Summit.
2016 The House of Representatives honored Henrietta Lacks for Women’s History Month, presented by the Hon. Elijah E. Cummings.
2016 California Legislature Assembly Resolution “Circle of Promise Day” honored Henrietta Lacks.
2016 Henrietta Lacks immortalized with a portrait at Baltimore City Hall.
2015 “Henrietta Lacks Day” in Baltimore designated on March 13, 2015 by former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
2014 Painted portrait of Henrietta Lacks by Salisbury University student hung in the Richard Henson School of Science and Technology.
2014 Lacks Inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.
2013 Lacks Family and NIH make new agreement regarding access to the entire
HeLa genome data with two family members added to the HeLa Genome Access Data Committee.
2013 Henrietta Lacks Health and Bioscience High School aka “HeLa High” established in Vancouver, Washington.
2013 Memorial plaque honoring Henrietta Lacks posted at her former home, 713 N. Pittsburgh Ave in Turner Station, Maryland.
2013 Henrietta Lacks High School Symposium sponsored by Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.
2011 The Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group is founded.
2011 Virginia Department of Historic Resources honored Henrietta Lacks with a highway marker in Halifax County, Virginia.
2011 Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan opens a Henrietta Lacks exhibit.
2011 Helen Wilson-Roe from England paints Lacks’ likeness and that of and several family members, which was showcased in the Science Museum in London in 2013.
2011 Morgan State University honored Henrietta Lacks with a posthumous doctorate in Public Service.
2011 Commonwealth of Virginia General Assembly House Resolution No. 74 honoring Henrietta Lacks.
2011 African American Trailblazers in Virginia History honored Henrietta Lacks as a Trailblazer.