A Historic Day: Henrietta Lacks's Long Unmarked Grave Finally Gets a Headstone

Today is a very exciting day:  Henrietta Lacks (aka HeLa) has been lying in an unmarked grave since her death in 1951. Today, thanks to Dr. Roland Pattillo at Morehouse School of Medicine, who donated a headstone after reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, her grave is finally marked.  Below, a snapshot of some members of the Lacks family beside the new marker for Henrietta, and the marker for her daughter, Elsie, which was also unveiled today.  Dr. Roland Pattillo is pictured at the far left:

Henrietta Lacks funeral.jpg
Her stone, in case you can't tell from the picture, is shaped like a book. The text was written by members of the Lacks family. It reads:
  
Henrietta Lacks, August 01, 1920-October 04, 1951.  
In loving memory of a phenomenal woman, wife and mother who touched the lives of many. 
Here lies Henrietta Lacks (HeLa).  Her immortal cells will continue to help mankind forever.
Eternal Love and Admiration, From Your Family 
Many thanks to Melissa Bell for the photo.

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Today is a very exciting day:  Henrietta Lacks (aka HeLa) has been lying in an unmarked grave since her death in 1951. Today, thanks to Dr. Roland Pattillo at Morehouse School of Medicine, who donated a headstone after reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, her grave is finally marked.  …
In addition to my own photos herein, Tom McLaughlin posted a nice slide show of the day at his South Boston News & Record. Despite two trees that snapped and fell in my driveway within six feet of my car in an impressive thunderstorm Friday evening, I drove on Saturday morning to Clover,…
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (TILoHL) by Rebecca Skloot was far and away the top science book of the year in my Best Science Books 2010: The top books of the year post from last month. In that post I took all the Best Science Books 2010 posts and tallied up the books with the most mentions…
Calling all academics: If you'd like a free advanced copy of my book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, get thee to Random House's academic blog and request a copy quick, while supplies last (which probably won't be long at the rate things are going). See below for more information on the book…

That's really great, Rebecca.

I feel like I bonded with the family after reading the book. I am thrilled that Henrietta Lacks has a memorial to her life.

By Warren Daniel (not verified) on 29 May 2010 #permalink

Got a bit choked up on seeing Henrietta's headstone and the family. Nice to see that recognition is finally coming to that poor woman and her long suffering family.
Congratulations to you, Rebecca, for seeing this through. Restores my faith in humanity :)

By Chris Smyth, D… (not verified) on 30 May 2010 #permalink

Ms. Skloot, if you're not already, you should be proud for the part you've done in giving Lacks and her surviving family the recognition they deserve.

Good.

By Christopher Gwyn (not verified) on 30 May 2010 #permalink

I'm weeping as I write this comment. Truly a historic occasion! The sentiment on Henrietta's marker is so fitting and beautiful. Thank you, Rebecca, for helping the Lacks family honour the memories of Henrietta and Elsie at long last -- and for helping the rest of us appreciate the woman behind HeLa. Now, if only Johns Hopkins would give the surviving family members free or low-cost health care...

Rebecca...you've written a great book! I've just finished and I'm so pleased to see the above pictures. It's criminal that it wasn't done sooner.
Congratulations on a job well done.

An amazing story so well told - thank you for the telling. Its just right and fitting that this story be told to the world as haven't we all had the benefit from Henrietta cells. So pleased that this lady and her family now have the recognition that is deserved

Learned about this incredible book thru my Book Club "Brothers and Sisters BC". Her living was not in vain. What a wonderful tribute for her families for generations to come.

By Marsetta Lee (not verified) on 24 Jun 2010 #permalink

very nices article.An amazing story so well told - thank you for the telling. Its just right and fitting that this story be told to the world as haven't we all had the benefit from Henrietta cells. So pleased that this lady and her family now have the recognition that is deserved