‘Cousins’ authors return to Harrisonburg, EMU where their journey of racial reconciliation began

Betty Kilby Baldwin and Phoebe Kilby have told their remarkable story of reconciliation and reparation 37 times in seven months across the country, with features in The Baltimore Sun, BBC News, and a Netflix documentary

In March, the co-authors of “Cousins: Connected Through Slavery” (Walnut Street Books, 2021) visit Harrisonburg to share more. 

Eastern Mennonite University is a special place to both women; it’s where they met in a five-day class titled “Coming to the Table,” during the 2007 Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Kilby holds a graduate certificate in conflict transformation and was the former first advancement director for CJP. Their connection continued through the development of the CTTT organization; its goal is to bring together descendants of slave owners and enslaved people to talk about racial reconciliation.

Their new book gives space for each woman to tell her story — Betty’s experience as one of the first Black children to attend a desegregated school in Rappahannock County, Phoebe’s desire to repair harms after a privileged life, the story of their meeting and ongoing work together. 

They’ll talk about all of this and answer questions from the audience at two events:

  • On Wednesday, March 23, at 10:10 a.m. in Lehman Auditorium at EMU, Baldwin and Kilby will speak at a convocation in honor of Women’s History Month. Masks are optional. This event will be livestreamed on EMU’s Facebook Live page. [You do not need to be a member of Facebook to watch.]

The talks are sponsored by EMU, as well as the university’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Kilby earned a graduate certificate in conflict transformation from the center in 2004 and worked as the center’s first development associate.

She and Baldwin met through the racial reconciliation organization Coming to the Table, which started at EMU in 2006 and continues today as a program of Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth. Nearly 50 CTTT local affiliate groups can be found in 19 states.

First published 3/8

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