On 8/11/13, I was watching the MHP show when I heard about the settlement for the family and heirs of Mrs. Lacks. They were completely unaware that scientists had taken her cells or what impact her cells had on so many nor did those who stole a piece of life from her at the time. It was a wow; a how didn’t I know moment and an overwhelming sense that finally; after having read this book a while ago, her family ~not only large, but has gone through some tough times …is finally being recognized and reimbursed for the contribution this woman made, though it took so long and may never really make up for what happened or what they all lost.
To get an idea, read a snippet of her life then go get Rebecca’s book
She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.
If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings.
HeLa cells, were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; her cells helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet, Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave, stolen cells lost advantages and money
Now Rebecca Skloot, takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethicist, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.
Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance? Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
Interestingly, this book is still being debated by folks who feel it could possibly be an exploitation of Mrs. lacks and the family for a piece of the big pie or settlement after having done a decade of research, getting personally involved while reports stated that she used personal funds. Others talk about the family like trash and fail to see why they should be given reparations. We must not ignore or deny, yes realize how important race, ethics in the healthcare industry or lack of them and the attempts to reform these issues still exist today. I feel that Rebecca set off a series of events that led to this family not only finding out things about their mother, but also recouped some if only a fraction of their mother and the contribution she made. In my opinion as a mom and daughter, whatever the settlement was it clearly would never ever be enough since they stole her cells and Mrs. Lacks lost her battle to cancer. Sadly, people of colour were treated so poorly in 1951 and while this was and still is a fantastic scientific discovery, it is also exposes the widespread discrimination on so many levels. ~Nativegrl77
On this day in 1967, Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African American to be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the Supreme Court for 24 years before retiring for health reasons, leaving a legacy of upholding the rights of the individual as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution… read more »
“Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.”
– Thurgood Marshall
“In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”
– Thurgood Marshall
“Equal means getting the same thing, at the same time and in the same place.”
– Thurgood Marshall
“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody—a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns—bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”
– Thurgood Marshall
“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.”
– Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was born on July 2, 1908, in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, William Marshall, the grandson of a slave, worked as a steward at an exclusive club. His mother, Norma, was a kindergarten teacher. One of William Marshall’s favorite pastimes was to listen to cases at the local courthouse before returning home to rehash the lawyers’ arguments with his sons. Thurgood Marshall later recalled, “Now you want to know how I got involved in law? I don’t know. The nearest I can get is that my dad, my brother, and I had the most violent arguments you ever heard about anything. I guess we argued five out of seven nights at the dinner table.”
Marshall attended Baltimore’s Colored High and Training School (later renamed Frederick Douglass High School), where he was an above-average student and put his finely honed skills of argument to use as a star member of the debate team. The teenaged Marshall was also something of a mischievous troublemaker. His greatest high school accomplishment, memorizing the entire United States Constitution, was actually a teacher’s punishment for misbehaving in class.
After graduating from high school in 1926, Marshall attended Lincoln University, a historically black college in Pennsylvania. There, he joined a remarkably distinguished student body that included Kwame Nkrumah, the future president of Ghana; Langston Hughes, the great poet; and Cab Calloway, the famous jazz singer.
After graduating from Lincoln with honors in 1930, Marshall applied to the University of Maryland Law School. Despite being overqualified academically, Marshall was rejected because of his race. This firsthand experience with discrimination in education made a lasting impression on Marshall and helped determine the future course of his career. Instead of Maryland, Marshall attended law school in Washington, D.C. at Howard University, another historically black school. The dean of Howard Law School at the time was the pioneering civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall quickly fell under the tutelage of Houston, a notorious disciplinarian and extraordinarily demanding professor. Marshall recalled of Houston, “He would not be satisfied until he went to a dance on the campus and found all of his students sitting around the wall reading law books instead of partying.” Marshall graduated magna cum laude from Howard in 1933.
Murray v. Pearson
After graduating from law school, Marshall briefly attempted to establish his own practice in Baltimore, but without experience he failed to land any significant cases.
August 6th was the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, but we will not be celebrating because two years ago the Supreme Court eviscerated a key protection of the landmark voting rights legislation.
Fortunately, our allies in Congress, led by Rep. John Lewis and Sen. Patrick Leahy, have introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA) which aims to fix the problems caused by the Supreme Court.
The VRAA would update the formula that determines which states have to get federal permission—or preclearance—before making any changes affecting voting or elections. The new formula targets all or parts of 13 states with a pattern of disenfranchising minority voters.