A bronze statue of Henrietta Lacks – whose cells were taken from her body without her permission before they facilitated numerous medical advances – is taking the place of a monument to the Confederate general Robert E Lee that was removed from her Virginia home town, officials announced this week.

Sculptor Larry Bechtel is designing the statue that is scheduled to be erected in Roanoke in October 2023 in a victory for supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Lacks’ story had been essentially lost to history until the publication of Rebecca Skloot’s 2010 memoir, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.