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Henrietta Lacks Legacy Week


WHEREAS, Henrietta Lacks was a remarkable African-American woman, a native Virginian, and a hero to us all, whose world-changing legacy has benefitted untold millions around the globe; and

WHEREAS, Henrietta Lacks’ cells, which were taken and used extensively without her or her family’s knowledge as she battled cancer, became the first immortal cell line, allowing for the unparalleled advancement of medical and biotech research; and

WHEREAS, over the decades, her cells, shortened in name to HeLa cells, would be named in more than 11,000 patents, including the Polio vaccine, numerous therapies to fight cancer and AIDS, and mapping the human genome; and

WHEREAS, the 2018 General Assembly unanimously endorsed the Henrietta Lacks Life Science Research and Cancer Treatment Center and commission, selecting her homeplace –Halifax County – as the place to build a monument to her profoundly powerful and healing legacy; and

WHEREAS, the inaugural meeting of the Henrietta Lacks Commission and the investiture of its members is scheduled this week in Halifax, pledging to work to provide treatments to the underserved residents of rural Southern Virginia, and develop and commercialize new therapies, which will transform the area’s economy; and

WHEREAS, Henrietta Lacks’ loving spirit continues through her descendants, whose mission is to extend the legacy of her miraculous gift and the unparalleled reach of her cell line;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize September 23-29, 2018, as HENRIETTA LACKS LEGACY WEEK in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.