Family and Community

The following chapters focus heavily on these themes: part I (chs.2 5, 9, 10); part II (chs.15, 16, 19, 21); part III (chs.25, 26, 28, 29, 30, 31, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38), and afterword.

Part I (Life): Chapters that fit this theme are as follows:

Chapter 2:

tobacco auction virginia

Clover…1920-1942 (background on Henrietta Lacks’s birth place and early childhood in Virginia), pp.18-26.

Chapter 5:

“Blackness Be Spreadin All Inside”…1951 (just before her death in Baltimore), pp.42-48.

Chapter 9:

Turner Station…1999 (Baltimore), pp.67-76.

Chapter 10:

The Other Side of the Tracks…1999 (Baltimore), pp.77-82.


Part II (Death): more chapters that fit the themes of family and community

Chapter 15: Lacks Home

“Too Young to Remember”…1951-1965 (Clover, Virginia & Turner Station, Baltimore, Maryland), pp.110-117.

Chapter 16:

“Spending Eternity in the Same Place”…1999 (gravesite in Lacks Town, Clover, Virginia), pp.118-126.

Chapter 19:

“The Most Critical Time on This Earth Is Now”…1966-1973 (meeting with Deborah Lacks and her relatives in Baltimore), pp.144-151.

Chapter 21:

Night Doctors…2000 (Some of this focuses on family and community but it also explores the days of slavery [pp.166-168], and Jim Crow Baltimore, including segregated medical practices and policies at Johns Hopkins University in the 1940s & 1950s), pp.158-169.

Henrietta's Funeral


Part III (Immortality): Between chapter 25 (“Who Told You You Could Sell My Spleen?”, pp.199-206) & chapter 26 (Breach of Privacy, pp.207-211), numerous pictures of the members of the Lacks family appear.

Chapter 26:

Breach of Privacy…1980-1985 (focuses on ethical issues in scientific experimentation, and Deborah’s search for records of her mother, Henrietta Lacks’s death), pp.207-211. 

Chapter 28:

After London…1996-1999 ( discusses the BBC’s early documentary on Henrietta Lacks, HeLa cells, interviews with Deborah and other Lacks members in front of the home-house in Clover, and moving to Turner Station in Baltimore in the 1940s and the con artist, Sir Lord Keenan Kester Cofield), pp.218-231.

Chapter 29:

A Village of Henriettas…2000 (deals with Deborah, Henrietta’s eldest daughter; it also focuses on science/cloning/bad science), pp.232-240.

Chapter 30:

Zakariyya…2000 (focuses on interviews with Deborah and her kin), pp.241-249.

Chapter 31:

HeLa, Goddess of Death…2000-2001 (deals with Deborah as researcher, Baltimore & family) pp.256-258.

Below is Deborah’s quote about her quest to find out everything she can about her younger sister, her mother and HeLa’s contribution to science and mankind: “I still want to go see them cells…I ain’t gonna let this stop me from learning about my mother and my sister” (p.258).

Chapter 33:

The Hospital for the Negro Insane…2001 (traces history from Crownsville to Clover & Roanoke, p.268; also examines racism, Jim Crowism, and Elsie & history of hospital since 1910 as well as  developments in Crownsville, Baltimore over the decades since the 1950s; also looks at various topics dealing with science), pp.268-278.

Chapter 35:

(Soul Cleansing; looks at Clover, Virginia and preaching/spiritual lessons; and role of Deborah’s divorced husband since 2006, Gary Pullman)

Chapter 36:

(Heavenly Bodies, Clover, Virginia; power of prayer and belief; Deborah’s belief that Henrietta Lacks suffering is connected to God’s plan; HL is God’s subject and lesson for mankind)

Chapter 37:

(Nothing To Be Sacred About; examines Deborah’s health problems and issues related to stress; talks abut the new Lacks children and looks at both family and community in 2001; great lesson on teaching history, p.304)

Chapter 38:

(The Long Road to Clover); deals with dying town (Clover was gone when Rebecca Skloot went there with Deborah, p.305; talks about where Henrietta grew up/very key chapter on family and community)

Grave Marker