There are stories to tell.
From its home at Center in the Square in Downtown Roanoke, the Harrison Museum of African American Culture specializes in telling stories of the African American experience. These stories surround us in Roanoke streets and neighborhoods every day, but some are forgotten and nearly erased from the landscape. It’s time to act before we lose them completely. In partnership with a team of city leaders, we’re reaching into Roanoke’s public spaces to engage and enlighten, remember difficult pasts and celebrate achievements.
Under the leadership of the Harrison Museum and Roanoke Vice-Mayor Trish White-Boyd, a seven-person committee is actively raising funds to initiate a public history project. Together, we’ll surface the hidden histories of the African American experience in Roanoke.
Initial projects include a partnership with Richmond-based Hidden in Plain Site (HiPS) that will gather and communicate virtual-reality based remembrances. We’ll start with five “easy to overlook sites important to the African American experience.”
In addition to this structural framework for ongoing work, the committee is raising funds for a memorial sculpture at the newly named Lacks Plaza.
A dignified sculpture will commemorate the ongoing and long unrecognized contributions of Roanoke native Henrietta Lacks, who unknowingly provided the world with the HeLa cell, fueling decades of life-saving and life changing research.
Our phase one funding goal: $160,000
- “There are few statues to Black women. Both Roanoke and South Boston aim to change that.” Cardinal News, Aug. 4, 2022
- “A Virtual Tour Uncovers the Hidden History of Black Disenfranchisement, “ CNET, June 22
- Af-Am history project launches with site tour,” Roanoke Tribune, April 21
- “Painful history of race will no longer be hidden,” Roanoke Times, April 18
- “Hidden in Plain Site cofounder introduces public art history project in Roanoke.” Roanoke Times, April 14
- “Editorial: Roanoke needs statue of Henrietta Lacks,” Roanoke Times, January 13
- “Fundraiser seeks $140,000 for Henrietta Lacks statue near Roanoke’s City Hall,” Roanoke Times, January 9
- “Push for Henrietta Lacks statue in Roanoke,“ WSLS, January 10
- Printable PDF of Roanoke Times editorial and article
- RVPF Supports Effort to Raise Funds for Henrietta Lacks Statue in Roanoke, VA
Check out these resources to learn more.
You can donate online with a credit card or PayPal account. Or, you easily make a donation by sending a check in support of the project.
- Make the check payable to Harrison Museum of African American Culture.
- Mention Henrietta Lacks /Hidden in Plain Site on the memo line
Harrison Museum of African American Culture
PO BOX 21054
Roanoke, VA 24018
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As we grow this effort, there will be opportunities for involvement. Consider volunteering for the Harrison Museum of African American Culture.
So far we’ve raised $90,000. We’re more than halfway there. Your contributions are a meaningful way to acknowledge and remember the full history of our place.