Rename Preston Gardens for Henrietta Lacks

Don't spend millions to honor the park's racist creator.

The $6.8 million being appropriated to beautify the Preston Gardens in downtown Baltimore might be more acceptable if it didn't continue to honor the legacy of former Mayor James. H. Preston ("Don't forget city park's racist past," Sept. 2).

Preston's policy of condemning three African American churches to help create the park and his role as an architect of segregation in the early years of the twentieth century should be acknowledged as such. Renaming the park for a prominent Baltimore African-American would be a step toward reparation and the healing necessary for Baltimore to move forward.

In Harriet A. Washington's book "Medical Apartheid" she describes "the first full history of black America's shocking mistreatment as unwilling and unwitting experimental subjects at the hands of the medical establishment."

One such person here in Baltimore was Henrietta Lacks, whose cells have become immortal through growth in culture and are alive today in all parts of the world. Yet she died 20 years before anyone in her family knew about this.

It would be a fitting tribute to name this park after Henrietta Lacks as a remembrance of her contribution to medical science and the injustice done to her by the medical establishment during her lifetime.

Recognizing what we have done wrong in the past and adjusting with meaningful reparation steps may help us to better appreciate the beautification of a Henrietta Lacks Memorial Gardens.

Raymond D. Bahr, Baltimore

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