BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) wants to see Henrietta Lacks receive a Congressional Gold Medal for the contributions she has made to modern science.

“Baltimore has a lot to be proud of in Henrietta Lacks,” Mfume said. “Make no mistake about it. She really, really was and is one of a kind.”

READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Severe Storm Threat Prompts Alert Day Saturday

Lacks cells, known as HeLa, have been key to cancer research, creating the polio vaccine, and even played a role in developing COVID-19 vaccines.

But she was far more than just a scientific study.

Henrietta Lacks was a mother, a cousin, an aunt, and a community staple before she was a cell in someone’s petri dish, Victoria Baptiste said.

Baptiste is the great-granddaughter of Lacks.

Before Lacks was the immortal mother of modern medicine, plastered on science pamphlets, she was the matriarch of her family and a mother of five.

Her children lost her when she was just 31 years old.

“I think sometimes people forget with all the contributions that she’s given how much our family actually lost,” Baptiste said.

She was once known in Turner Station as a woman helping others. Now, she is known around the world for the same thing.

READ MORE: Baltimore Police Stepping Up Deployment On Fourth Of July Weekend, Commissioner Says

And thanks to local lawmakers, her legacy will be remembered.

“Six years ago today we received a resolution for the late Congressman Elijah Cummings and during Congressman Mfume’s campaign, he promised to continue the work,” Baptiste said.

It’s a personal mission for Mfume who was only separated from the Lacks family by a few blocks.

“My mother knew her mother,” Mfume said. “She knew my mother. And there’s so many stories that have come out of Turner Station that have never been told. This one is indeed significant.”

Lacks’ contribution through her cells, through research, and through all the lives that have been saved by that research over the years “is absolutely significant and deserving of a Congressional Gold Medal,” Mfume said.

Together, he and Baptiste hope that Lacks’ legacy lives in the minds of today’s female scientists. 

“We want people to say her name because when her cells were first discovered, no one said her name,” Baptiste said.

Little girls everywhere should be inspired by her legacy, Mfume said.

MORE NEWS: State Police Expand Traffic Enforcement On I-83 In Baltimore City

“They might say to themselves: I can find a way to take what Mrs. Lacks gave us and to make it even better,” he said. “And to do even more research and to save even more lives.”