Mfume was joined by Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Steven Horsford, D-Nev., U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, and Lack’s family as they work toward honoring Lacks for her contributions to modern science, TheGrio reported.
“Today, I announced my legislation to honor #HenriettaLacks with the #CongressionalGoldMedal. Mrs. Lacks’ #HeLaCells altered the future of medical science. I encourage my colleagues to join me in further immortalizing her legacy with our highest expression of national recognition,” Mfume tweeted.
Today, I announced my legislation to honor #HenriettaLacks with the #CongressionalGoldMedal. Mrs. Lacks’ #HeLaCells altered the future of medical science. I encourage my colleagues to join me in further immortalizing her legacy with our highest expression of national recognition. pic.twitter.com/YhESLK4SMz
— Kweisi Mfume (@RepKweisiMfume) June 14, 2023
Lacks was reportedly diagnosed with cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1951, WBAL-TV reported. Today, the tissue known as HeLa cells, which were harvested without Lacks’ consent, has been used by researchers to create vaccines for polio, COVID-19 and various cancer treatments.
“HeLa cells revolutionized medical research and numerous medical breakthroughs,” Horsford said in a statement obtained by TheGrio. “Ms. Lacks nor her family would receive recognition or credit, nor would they be made aware of the existence or use of HeLa cells for many years after her passing.”
As Blavity reported, Lacks is being honored with a bronze statue in her hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, and a preliminary drawing of the piece was revealed in December 2022. Artist Bryce Cobbs created the masterpiece, and it’s scheduled for public viewing in October 2023.
At the time, Cobbs told ABC News he was honored to create the art piece and proud to be part of history with Lacks.
“The fact that I’m involved in this project means the world,” Cobbs said at a press conference, according to the outlet. “I’m humbled to be a part of history in this way and just to be trusted with the task of making sure that I just captured Mrs. Henrietta Lacks the best way I could.”