The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
A Conversation with the Family of Henrietta Lacks
Tuesday, February 21
72 East Concord Street
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor Black woman who died in 1951 from cervical cancer at age 31. Prior to her death, a sample of her tumor was taken, and without her knowledge or consent, given to a tissue culture scientist who was attempting to find cells that would survive indefinitely in the laboratory. Henrietta’s cells did just that, signaling a medical and scientific breakthrough, and subsequently launching a multimillion dollar industry of which her family was unaware, and from which they never received compensation.
David Lacks Jr. is the grandson of Henrietta Lacks and son of David “Sonny” Lacks. David possesses a degree in computer information systems and has traveled around the United States and Canada setting up computer systems and labs for companies and educational institutions. He lends his talent to helping create and maintain the Lacks family website. David represents the Lacks family on the National Institute of the Health’s panel that reviews applications to conduct research using the HeLa genome.
Shirley Lacks is Henrietta Lacks’ daughter-in-law and Deborah’s childhood best friend. Since retiring from the banking industry, Shirley dedicates much of her time traveling around the country, keeping Henrietta’s legacy alive. Shirley has three children and five grandchildren.