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The Whole Staircase: Films Celebrating 400 Years of African American History & Culture

cover imageThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017)

Summer Screening Date and Location
August 1, 2019
Location: Palatka Campus Library
Time: 5:30 p.m. 
An informal discussion with members of the Race Issues Study Circle will be held after the film.

All are welcome to this free event! 

Spring Screening Dates and Locations

This film will be presented by Dr. Kim Van Vliet, professor of biology

Dr. Van Vliet explains, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is about an African American woman whose cancer cells were removed in an effort to find cures and treatments. These HeLa cells were widely distributed to research labs and sold to laboratories around the country without the family's knowledge. (Cancer cells are immortal, they don't stop dividing like normal cells do after about 75 cell divisions, so these immortal cells were maintained and widely distributed - the title of the movie is a play on this fact - that Henrietta Lacks life still lives on through her cells.) DNA technology had not yet been developed, but once it was available researchers wanted to compare the sequence of these cells to normal cells to get a better understanding of this type of cancer. To publish a paper using sequencing data, scientists are required to submit the sequence to the DNA database. At this step, a new issue arose which was that her DNA sequences - or portions of them - were shared by her grandchildren and these sequences would then be in a public database about which they were not even consulted." 

March 27, 2019
Location: Palatka Campus, Building A, Valhalla Hall
Time: 5:30 p.m.

March 28, 2019
Location: Orange Park Campus, Building A, room A-72
Time: 3:00 p.m.

March 29, 2019
Location: St. Augustine Campus Library, room L-112
Time: 3:00 p.m.

Film Information: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

"An African American woman becomes an unwitting pioneer for medical breakthroughs when her cells are used to create the first immortal human cell line in the early 1950s." - publisher's description

Run time: 93 minutes

This film is rated TV-MA and is intended for mature audiences.

Resources for Further Exploration: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Books at the SJR State Library

Books may be checked out by community patrons as well as SJR State students faculty and staff. If a title is located at another campus, the book may be sent to another campus upon request.

Celebration • Education • Reflection

H.R.1242/Public Law 115-102, the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, establishes 2019 as a year of "commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies, at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619."  The commemoration is intended “to recognize and highlight the resilience and contributions of African-Americans since 1619; to acknowledge the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States; and to educate the public about the arrival of Africans in the United States; and the contributions of African-Americans to the United States.” In recognition of this commemoration and with the Act serving as a guide, the SJR State Library has organized a year-long series of events that will provide educational experiences and resources to students and the community that celebrate the history and culture of African Americans.

Site created and maintained by Dr. Christina Will. Pages will be added and maintained throughout 2019.
Maintenance will cease at the end of 2019 but this site will remain accessible.