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East Baltimore community to rename park in honor of Henrietta Lacks

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Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 14:10:22-04

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore City Recreation and Parks and the East Baltimore community are hosting a ceremony to celebrate the renaming of Ambrose Kennedy Park to Henrietta Lacks Educational Park.

Henrietta Lacks was a Baltimore woman who's “HeLa” cells were the basis of research for a number of modern medical breakthroughs.

“The legacy of Henrietta Lacks goes beyond the scientific community,” said Councilman Robert Stokes, Sr. “The unmistakable impact of the “immortal” HeLa cells serves as proof that something positive can emerge from a terrifying and heartbreaking experience. Considerable knowledge and treatments that save and transform lives exist today because of the contribution Ms. Lacks made to the world. Her legacy has social impact, as well. The HeLa cells are often referred to as “immortal” because what appeared to be “lethal and deadly” actually contained life. The same can be said for our resilient communities like Johnston Square and what is now the Henrietta Lacks Educational Park. On the surface this park appeared to be gone or lost, but at its core – due in part to the hard work that went into revitalizing this park – today there is life. Life that will be enjoyed by many for generations to come.”

Baltimore Mayor Jack Young and the office of Councilman Robert Stokes Sr. will be joined by supporters from the Henrietta Lacks Legacy Group, members of the Lacks family, members of the Johnston Square Neighborhood Association and community, and the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translation Research for the celebration.

The park has been renovated with two new basketball courts, a grass recreational field, new bathrooms, and a state-of-the-art splash pad. The update was part of a $1.3 million revitalization project to restore the Ambrose Kennedy Park space.

The renaming ceremony will be held at the Ambrose Kennedy Park on Saturday, July 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.