Formation of the Henrietta Lacks Commission is imminent, now that Virginia Senate Bill #171 (presented by Senator William Stanley, District 20) and its companion House Bill #1415 (presented by Delegate James Edmunds, District 60) have received unanimous support from their respective chambers and during the current legislative crossover session. In conjunction with this, Henrietta Lacks was honored yesterday by both chambers with members of the Henrietta Lacks Family, and Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group received standing ovations from the legislators for forwarding Henrietta Lacks’s legacy.
“Henrietta Lacks is a Virginia native, a Virginia hero, an African-American woman whose unique world-changing legacy has touched all of us,” stated Delegate Edmunds as part of his recognition.
Henrietta Lacks is an important historical figure in the world of cancer treatment and biomedical research. She was raised, married and started her family in Halifax County, Virginia, and is buried in a cemetery in the Lacks Town area of the county in Clover, Virginia. The story of how her unique cell line became one of the most important biomedical research advancements of the 20th century gained world-wide attention through the New York Times Best Selling Book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, released in 2010. An HBO movie of the same name was produced by and starred Oprah Winfrey.
The Henrietta Lacks Commission’s purpose will be to create, build and see to sustainable operation the Henrietta Lacks Life Science and Cancer Treatment Center (LSC) in the Southern Virginia Technology Park, just a few short miles from where Henrietta lies in eternal rest in Halifax County, Virginia. This project is a joint effort begun by the Halifax County, Virginia, Industrial Development Authority (IDA), now in partnership with the Virginia Legislature, Office of the Governor of Virginia, Henrietta Lacks family, Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group, and The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.
For more information about the Henrietta Lacks Commission or the Henrietta Lacks Life Science Center Project, please contact: Matt Leonard, Executive Director, Halifax IDA at (434) 572-1734 Ext. 101; or by email here.
Pictured: Descendants of Henrietta lacks, recognized as a Virginia hero, meet in the Rotunda of Virginia’s Capital Building with the Virginia legislators who seek to fully honour Henrietta Lacks through the establishment of the Henrietta Lacks Commission. Shown from left to right: Devin Lacks, David Lacks, Jr., Thomas Whye, Jeri Lacks-Whye, Senator William Stanley, Delegate James Edmunds, Veronica Robinson, and Alfred Carter, Jr.