The Roanoke Hidden Histories project wouldn't be possible without the support of many generous donors.
The Roanoke Hidden Histories project acknowledges African American history in the community’s public spaces. It focuses on acknowledging and documenting painful and troubling aspects of our shared history, as well as celebrating Black achievement in the community, while bringing this overlooked history to life.
The project consists of two main components: development of a virtual education tool that emphasizes “hidden history” at five community locations and the creation of a sculpture of Henrietta Lacks at the City’s Lacks Plaza in Downtown Roanoke.
The first physical project, a sculpture of Henrietta Lacks, honors the Roanoke native who unknowingly provided the world with the HeLa cell, fueling decades of life-saving and life changing research.
The bronze sculpture of Lacks will be designed by local artists Bryce Cobbs of Roanoke and Larry Bechtel of Blacksburg.
Roanoke is honored to have the blessing of Henrietta Lacks' family for this project.
"Roanoke is the first to reach out to Henrietta Lacks' estate. This is a big deal," stated Ron Lacks, son of Lawrence Lacks and grandson of Henrietta Lacks.
The virtual reality component of the project will be used as an educational tool and is being developed through a partnership with Richmond’s Hidden in Plain Site (HIPS).
Hidden in Plain Site is a virtual reality (VR) exploration of distinct, but easy to overlook sites that tell the story of the Black experience throughout history.
Featuring actual examples from various angles and ages, these sites will be brought to life through current appearance augmented with historical imagery. The goal is to inform and educate while changing how residents and visitors see and experience their city.
Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge 101 Shenandoah Avenue NE Roanoke, VA 24016 (540) 342-6025 (800) 635-5535
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is committed to cultivating an atmosphere that welcomes and celebrates the unique backgrounds, abilities, passions, and perspectives of our vibrant community. As our region’s only destination marketing organization, we have a responsibility to showcase the best the Roanoke Region has to offer, and those assets and strengths come in varied forms. We embrace differences in race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, language, visible and invisible disabilities, and all the intersecting identities that make Virginians and visitors alike so unique. We believe our differences make us stronger– and better.