Henrietta Lacks’ Family Slams Oprah & HBO For “Taking Advantage” of Them

Published: Wednesday 29th Mar 2017 by Rashad

Oprah Winfrey once referred to historical figure Henrietta Lacks as ‘the woman history tried to silence.’  For retribution’s sake, O teamed with HBO to bring Lacks’ remarkable story to life via an April 22-due made-for-TV biopic (as we reported here).

But, less than a month before its air date, members of Lacks’ family are saying Winfrey and co. are dishing them a fate similar to that of Henrietta’s –  trying to silence them and taking advantage of their family’s legacy.

Read the jaw-dropping allegations inside:

The executor of Henrietta Lacks’ estate – her son Lawrence Lacks – alleges Oprah Winfrey and HBO’s new film, ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ (and the book its based on), inaccurately portrays his family.

In addition, he’s quoted saying:


“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.”

Going on, he said:

“…it feels very racist,” said Mr. Lacks. “If she [Rebecca Skloot, the writer of ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ the book] can present the family as poor and uneducated, she can present herself as spokesperson for the family and make money and promote herself on her lies. It makes a better story if we’re poor and dumb.”

He concludes by saying no publishing company, HBO, nor Oprah herself have given any money to the Lacks estate.

“It’s bad enough Johns Hopkins took advantage of us,” Mr. Lacks said. “Now Oprah, Rebecca and HBO are doing the same thing. They’re no better than the people they say they hate.”


Since Lawrence made the claims above, Crown Publishing has clapped back with an official statement. It reads:

“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…”


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  1. DanYiel Iman March 29, 2017

    “Hmm I don’t get it!”

    • Glorious Sun March 30, 2017

      Honestly, don’t think families realise that if they do not own the TM stating that any movies, books, etc royalties or publishings anyone outside of the family does goes back to the family – they can not profit.

  2. AmbeRussell March 30, 2017

    I feel bad BC people will continue to prosper over the family while they are getting nothing in turn for their story and the cell.

  3. S jam best waytran boys tme ooh British March 31, 2017

    Really people cliam stuff all the time

  4. sholmes April 1, 2017

    What is it that the family wants? money? I find it hard to believe that after all these years that licensing and rights have not been put into place that would allow this family to be compensated for the use of her name and story. Something doesn’t sound right. They may not be able to profit from the use of her cells, due to the fact that during that time patients did not have to give permission in order for their cells to be used, but since her story has come to light and the tremendous contributions, her family ought to be able to claim the rights of her name and story.

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