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Next phase of Henrietta Lacks statue and virtual hidden histories project announced

Roanoke Hidden Histories has announced the surpassing of its fundraising goal to create a statue of Henrietta Lacks in Lacks Plaza across from Roanoke’s Municipal Building and development of a virtual educational tool that emphasizes “hidden history” at five Roanoke locations. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, and Carilion Clinic all contributed to the total contributions of $183,877.

Supporters, members of the Lacks family, and nationally recognized civil rights attorney Ben Crump gathered last month to recognize the fundraising accomplishment and launch the next phase of the projects.

Roanoke Hidden Histories is a volunteer-led effort, partnered with the Harrison Museum of African American Culture as its fiscal agent, with the primary goal of acknowledging African American history in the community’s public spaces. The project will focus on acknowledging and documenting painful and troubling aspects of our shared history as well as celebrating Black achievement in the community. A goal of the effort is to bring overlooked history to life.

Henrietta Lacks was a Roanoke native who unknowingly provided the world with the HeLa cell, fueling decades of life-saving and life changing medical research. The virtual reality component of the project will be used as an educational tool and is being developed through a partnership with Richmond’s Hidden in Plain Site.