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Statue of Henrietta Lacks to replace toppled Robert E. Lee monument in  Virginia

Her 'immortal' cells are estimated to have saved millions of lives.

henrietta lacks
"Henrietta Lacks" by yooperann is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

A Henrietta Lacks mural in Oak Park, Illinois.

Lee Plaza in Roanoke, Virginia, was named for Robert E. Lee, and up until 2020, it was home to a monument to the famed Confederate general. In the racial justice protests of 2020, however, the monument was toppled and then removed. And in 2021, the city council voted to split the renaming of the plaza, with part becoming Freedom Plaza and the section where Lee's monument stood becoming Henrietta Lacks Plaza.

In a move that reflects the nation's ongoing reckoning with its racial history, a statue of Lacks will soon be erected in the city of her birth, right where the Lee monument stood. At an event at the site this week, artist Bryce Cobbs unveiled a full-sized rendering of Lacks, upon which the new statue will be designed.

Henrietta Lacks was a Black American woman and mother of five who was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 1951. While she was being treated at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, a doctor snipped cells from her cervix without her knowledge or consent. Lacks died of the aggressive cancer at age 31, but her cells lived on … and on and on, much to the surprise of Dr. George Gey, the researcher who studied them.


Unlike other patients' cells, which had always quickly died in Gey's lab, Lacks' cells doubled every 20 to 24 hours. These "immortal" cells, nicknamed HeLa cells after Lacks' first and last name, changed modern medicine in huge ways. HeLa cells have been—and still are—used to study the effects of toxins, drugs, hormones and viruses on cancer cells, to test the effects of radiation and poisons, to develop vaccines (including the polio and COVID-19 vaccines) and to study the human genome.

The world owes Henrietta Lacks a huge debt of gratitude for the medical breakthroughs her cells have helped humanity accomplish. However, it's also important to acknowledge the injustice that her cells were used without her consent.

In attendance at the art unveiling event were a son and grandson of Henrietta Lacks, both of whom have worked to have her story told and honored. Her grandson Ron Lacks expressed his happiness at the Roanoke event that the plaza project involved the Lacks family and that the organizers of the project had approached them first. The statue design by sculptor Larry Bechtel is set to be unveiled in October 2023.

The replacing of a Confederate monument with a statue of a Black American who contributed to the advancement of humanity feels only fitting. While we can't right historical wrongs, we can at least acknowledge them and make sure the people we choose to celebrate with monuments are deserving of the honor.

Community

Decluttering top of mind for 2024? This Facebook group can help

This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

With the new year comes plenty of resolutions we all vow to keep up with the best of intentions. But by February 1, our resolve has often waned as life gets in the way and things go back to how they were. What we all need a little more of is motivation.

When we participate in something collectively, it’s easier to meet goals and maintain the enthusiasm to get things done. While the support of a friend or two is great, imagine having the power of an entire online community cheering you on and offering advice along the way.

This is where the Daily Decluttering Challenge Facebook group comes in. This online community offers easy-to-implement advice for decluttering, organizing, and cleaning up your home and your life with support from 125,000 members.

“By building a network of people who can support and encourage you along the way, you can make progress towards your goals faster and more effectively. Remember, no one achieves success alone, and having a strong support system can make the difference in a goal set versus a goal achieved,” says Kristin Burke, a goal achievement coach.

In addition to tips for tidying up around the house, members share advice on how to tackle one thing at a time, where to donate excess items, and what they do to exercise more willpower to avoid buying new things.

For anyone hoping to declutter their lives in the new year, this Facebook group has the perfect challenge to get you started.

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Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.

I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.

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via Dayna Motycka/TikTok and eBay

The Stanley Quencher is all the rage.

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In 2024, the hip thing with the tween set is having a brand-name water bottle to bring to school, specifically a Stanley.

Historically, a Stanley was a blue-collar tumbler you’d bring to a construction site. But now, in a world where people are obsessed with hydration, the $45 bottle is all the rage amongst tweens and teens.

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A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.

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There's a wonderful reason why Mister Rogers always said aloud he's feeding his fish

Warning: This article is about Fred Rogers and his neighborhood, so there's a 50/50 chance you'll shed a tear.



On Feb. 19, 2023, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," turned 55 years old. And the internet was feeling feelings over it.

After premiering on Canadian TV in 1963, Fred Rogers' beloved children's program debuted in the U.S. in 1968, inspiring generations of kids across North America to be more thoughtful, kinder neighbors.

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'Princess Bride' star Mandy Patinkin shared a moving detail about the film with a grieving woman

Two souls connecting over the loss of their fathers. (Phew, grab a tissue for this one, folks.)

via Mandy Patinkin / TikTok

There was an emotional exchange on TikTok between two people who lost their fathers to cancer. One was actor Mandy Patinkin, the other was TikTok user Amanda Webb.

Patinkin currently stars on "The Good Fight" but one of his most famous roles is Inigo Montoya in the 1987 classic "The Princess Bride." In the film, Montoya is a swordsman who is obsessed with confronting a six-fingered man who killed his father.

Webb recently lost her father Dan to mantle cell lymphoma. She had heard a rumor that Patinkin used his father's death from cancer as motivation in a pivotal scene where he confronts the six-fingered Count Rugen (Christopher Guest) in a duel.

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Pop Culture

Andie MacDowell shows what we can all learn about beauty and age from the gray hair movement

"Honestly, it's exhausting to have to be something that you no longer are."

Andie MacDowell in Cannes, 2003.

For many, even those that proudly wave the flag of self-love, the sight of that first gray hair is anxiety inducing. That single strand is a harbinger of the doom of our youth. More than one, and you might as well weave them together to create yourself a noose. It’s time to kiss your beauty—and therefore, your value—goodbye.

But what if, instead of marking the end of our glory days, we could see this change as a new chapter with equally glorious reveals? Something worth presenting, rather than hiding?

Back in July 2021, actress Andie MacDowell made headlines for rocking the silver vixen look at the Cannes Film Festival. MacDowell’s hair has always been a defining feature, but previously she had been coloring her raven locks to maintain her signature look. This was at the behest of her managers, according to an interview with Vogue.

But after her kids officially declared the salt-and-pepper look was “badass,” MacDowell started to see going natural as a “power move.” So she followed the impulse, and you don’t need me to tell you it was a bit of a social media sensation.

MacDowell reflected on how freeing the experience was in a conversation with Interview Magazine. “I feel better like this. Honestly, it’s exhausting to have to be something that you no longer are…I was finally like, ‘You know what? I’m not young. And I’m OK with that..I feel so much more comfortable. It’s like I’ve taken a mask off or something.”’

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