Campaign for a commemorative postage stamp of the immortal Henrietta Lacks
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We write to request your favorable consideration of the authorization of a postage stamp commemorating the “immortal” Henrietta Lacks. It is our understanding that the Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group (HLLG) presented a proposal to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee to affect the commission of such a stamp on December 31, 2013 and again on July 11, 2017. Lacks’ legacy encompasses Black History, world history, and human welfare. In light of the tremendous contributions made to medical research, space exploration, and bioethics via her HeLa cells, it seems both proper and fitting that she should be recognized via a commemorative postage stamp.
Considered by many to be the mother of modern medicine, Henrietta Lacks has touched more people, influenced more medical breakthroughs, and saved more lives than anyone else in modern history. The most immediate result of HeLa was the creation of the Polio vaccine, which eradicated the disease. Clones of the original cell culture continue to serve as the foundation of groundbreaking scientific research, globally. In addition to those already listed, HeLa cells are used in the development of HIV/AIDS treatments, advancements in cloning, in vitro fertilization, and genetics research. Alas, because she was an African-American woman of humble birth and social standing in mid-20th century America, Mrs. Lacks’ true identity was deliberately concealed, robbing her and her descendants of rightful recognition. Only recently has the world awakened to the unparalleled, exceedingly positive impact Lacks has made toward its betterment. She has been and continues to be honored in many ways. Most recently, these honors include:
2017 Designated street in Turner Station, Maryland as “Henrietta Lacks Place”
2017 Designated part of highway 695 in Dundalk, Maryland “Henrietta Lacks Way”
2017 The State of Maryland has designated the 1st Saturday in August as “Henrietta Lacks Day”
2017 Premiere of the television movie on HBO The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, starring Oprah Winfrey
2017 Exhibit honoring Henrietta Lacks kicks off 13-City Tour in Washington D.C at the African American Health Equity Summit
2016 The House of Representatives honored Henrietta Lacks for Women’s History Month, presented by the Hon. Elijah E. Cummings, on March 14, 2016
In summary, Henrietta Lacks has unquestionably earned international acclaim. We ask that the United States Postal Service show our nation’s appreciation for her immense gift by issuing a commemorative postage stamp in her honor. This tribute would do much towards justly acknowledging her legacy while enthusiastically demonstrating our embrace of this remarkable American woman and her miraculous endowment to humanity. Thank you for seriously evaluating this request. I trust that you will deem it worthy of your support.
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