WWU Plans Events to Promote One Read, Henrietta Lacks Story


William Woods University faculty and staff have planned a
number of activities during September in conjunction with the Daniel Boone
Regional Library’s One Read program. This year’s book, chosen by a public vote,
is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” a non-fiction work by Rebecca Skloot.

Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose work has
appeared in The New York Times
Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications.
She specializes in narrative science writing. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta
Lacks,” her debut book, took more than a decade to research and write, and
instantly became a New York Times best-seller.
One Read, now in its 10th year, is a community-wide reading
program that encourages adults of all ages to read one book and participate in
thought-provoking discussion and activities. All events at WWU are free and
open to the public.
Henrietta Lacks was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her
cells–taken without her knowledge–became one of the most important tools in
medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in
vitro fertilization and more.
Known as HeLa to scientists, Henrietta’s cells have been
bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her
family can’t afford health insurance.
Author Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey,
from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white
laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying
hometown of Clover, Va.—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and
voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and
struggle with the legacy of her cells.
This story of the Lacks family explores the collision of
ethics, race and medicine and follows a daughter’s search for the mother she
never knew.

Following is a list of One Read activities planned at William
Woods University. All events take place at 7 p.m. in the Library Auditorium
unless otherwise noted.
Sept. 1—“The Way of All
A 53-minute BBC documentary about the Henrietta Lacks
story. It will be especially helpful for those who have not yet read the book,
but want some idea of its content. Dr. Greg Smith, WWU associate professor of
English and film, will lead a discussion.
Sept. 8—“From Separate
to Equal”
A documentary about General Hospital in Kansas City. At
the turn of the 20th century, African-American doctors, nurses and patients were
excluded from most Kansas City area hospitals. The realities of segregation
created the need for Black health care institutions. The film tells the
dramatic story of some of greater Kansas City’s African-American health care
pioneers and their efforts that led to the creation of Black hospitals and
finally to the complete integration of the health care system. Dr. Greg Smith,
WWU associate professor of English and film, will lead a discussion.
Sept. 12—Medical
Experimentation in the 3rd Reich
During World War II,
a number of German physicians conducted painful and often deadly experiments on
thousands of concentration
prisoners without their consent. Dr. Shawn Hull, WWU associate
professor of history, with expertise on German history, will draw comparisons
between the unethical medical experimentation carried out during the Third Reich
and the case of Henrietta Lacks here in the United States in the 1950s.
Sept. 13—A
Life-saving Vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually
transmitted virus in the United States. At least 50 percent of sexually active
people will have genital HPV at some time in their lives. Dr. Katharine Mixer
Mayne, WWU assistant professor of biology, will give a presentation on Cervical
Cancer and the HPV vaccine, Guardasil, which protects females against the
types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.