One Book Program

The One Book program engages our college community in a dialogue about a common text that addresses a current issue. Students, faculty and staff share the experience of reading a text and examining its effects upon our community. Faculty who incorporate the text into their curriculum receive copies for their students. Programming is provided throughout the year to continue the discussions that begin in the classrooms of various disciplines. The culminating event happens each spring semester when the college invites the author of the chosen text to visit, interact and speak with our student body. The One Book program promotes literacy in an innovative way and creates interest within a subject that students may be encouraged to pursue and advocate for in the future. The program invites analysis, promotes critical thinking, and encourages positive change.

One Book 2016-2017: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks book cover

The Immortal Life OF Henrietta Lacks with Shirley Lacks and David Lacks, Jr.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
A300 Auditorium


Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for  developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance. The book takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.

One Book Poetry Contest
Immortality: Living Forever

Inspired by this year’s One Book selection:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot

The One Book Poetry Contest is open to all BHCC students.

Submission Guidelines
1. All entries must be original and created by a BHCC student.
2. Each student may submit only one entry.
3. Poems should be on page maximum.
4. Email submissions as attachment to by Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 5 p.m. Indicate your name, email and phone number in the body of the email. Indicate “One Book Poetry Contest” in the subject line.

A faculty/staff panel will judge the submissions based on integration of the theme — immortality —and on creativity and clarity.

Top three winners will have their poems on display as well as be invited to lunch with family members David Lacks Jr. and Shirley Lacks on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

Winners will be notified by April 24, 2017.

For more information contact:
Jennifer Cohn at or Anicia Kuchesky at

Overview of the Book: (From

From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive--even thrive--in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta's family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution--and her cells' strange survival--left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? --Tom Nissley


  • Winner of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine’s 2011 Communication Award for Best Book
  • Winner of the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Public Library Foundation 21st Century Award
  • Winner of the Medical Journalists’ Association Open Book Award, General Readership, Non-Fiction
  • Winner of an Ambassador Book Award in American Studies
  • Winner of 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize
  • Winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Young Adult Science Book Award
  • Winner of the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Nonfiction
  • Winner of 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction
  • Amazon Best Book of the Year
  • Barnes & Noble Best Books for Adults 2010
  • Winner of the 2010 Indie Lit Award for NonFiction
  • Winner of Readers Choice Award for Best Debut Author and Best Nonfiction Book of the Year
  • Winner of Powells’ 2011 Puddly Award for Nonfiction
  • Winner of Diamond Award for Best Book
  • Winner of the Audie Award for Best Nonfiction Audiobook


  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Entertainment Weekly #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year
  • New Yorker Reviewers’ Favorite
  • American Library Association Notable Book
  • People Top Ten Book of the Year
  • Washington Post Book World Top Ten Book of the Year
  • Best Book of the Year
  • USA Today Ten Books We Loved Reading
  • O, The Oprah Magazine Top Ten Book of the Year
  • National Public Radio Best of the Bestsellers
  • Boston Globe Best Nonfiction Book of the Year  
  • Financial Times Nonfiction Favorite
  • Los Angeles Times Critics’ Pick
  • Bloomberg Top Nonfiction
  • New York magazine Top Ten Book of the Year
  • Favorite Book of the Year