David “Sonny” Lacks, Son of Henrietta Lacks, to Speak

David “Sonny” Lacks, the son of Henrietta Lacks, the central figure in the book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, will speak about his mother and her legacy on September 27 at 7:00 p.m. in the University Hall Conference Center. A part of Constitution Day 2012, the event is free and open to the public.

The New York Times bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot, is the selection for Montclair Book 2012, a common reading experience for first-year students. It tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor, African-American tobacco farmer whose cells, taken without her knowledge in 1951, were to become the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. Although she died later that year, her cells continued to be used and played a crucial role in medical breakthroughs in vaccinations, cloning, in vitro fertilization, and gene mapping.

David Lacks and his siblings did not learn that the cells existed until the 1970s and he will speak about what it meant to find out—decades after the fact—that his mother’s cells were being used in laboratories around the world, bought and sold by the billions. He will share his unique first-person perspective on the ethical questions raised by this remarkable story, and how the experience changed the Lacks family forever.

Brigid Harrison, professor of political science and law will be the moderator for the event and Lacks will be joined by his son, David Jr. They will be available to sign copies of the book after the presentation.

The event is jointly sponsored by the Center for Writing Excellence, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the First-Year Writing Program, and Student Development and Campus Life. Please join us for this very special event!