Friday, January 22, 2021

Crown Publishing Pushes Back on Henrietta Lacks Family Accusations of Inaccurate Portrayal

Oprah & HenriettaLacks
Oprah Winfrey who stars as Henrietta Lacks for HBO and the real Henrietta Lacks

*Over the weekend we posted a story/press release from the family of Henrietta Lacks. Specifically, Lawrence Lacks, the executor of his mother Henrietta Lacks‘ estate, says Oprah Winfrey, OWN, HARPO, HBO, Crown Publishing, and Random House’s upcoming movie, based on Rebecca Skloot’s book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” is an inaccurate portrayal of his family.

What’s more, Lacks says, these entities continue the cycle of profiting from Henrietta’s legacy without giving back. Worse yet – they’re telling people they’re helping the family when they’re not, he added.

“Not only are they making money using my mother’s name – they’re telling people they’re supporting us when they’re not,” said Mr. Lacks. “It’s embarrassing. And when we try to raise money for our foundation or to help our family people say “you don’t need money – you’re rich. Oprah and HBO gave you all that money. Johns Hopkins paid for college.” None of it’s true. And now people ask us for money and not only is bad we can’t help our family – we can’t help others.”

the immortal life of henrietta lacks - cover

Well, Crown Publishing is pushing back on Lawrence Lacks’ accusations and has responded via “a spokesperson from the Crown Publishing Group” with this statement:

Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed and prize-winning book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is a meticulously researched and reported work of independent journalism that we have been proud to publish and that we fully stand by.

“In advance of the book’s publication, Ms. Skloot provided multiple copies of the manuscript to members of the Lacks family and solicited their comments and corrections, which were subsequently incorporated in the book. Lawrence Lacks consented to be interviewed by Ms. Skloot during her reporting and attended meetings with Ms. Skloot and other family members at which the contents of the book were discussed at length. The manuscript also went through an extensive fact checking process.

“The veracity of the book, which has brought heightened awareness to the significant contributions of HeLa cells to medicine and modern science, has not been challenged in the seven years since its initial publication in February 2010. In the subsequent years, numerous members of the Lacks family have participated in interviews and public events in support of the book and of the importance of telling the story of Henrietta Lacks.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is also an HBO movie that’s set to appear next month.

You can read the complete report on what Lawrence Lacks and the Lacks family had to say, HERE.




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