BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Dr. Betty Kilby Baldwin and Phoebe Kilby are on a journey through Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia to talk about how to heal a divided nation.
“We are talking about racial reconciliation, and we are overcoming racial divisions, trying to bring our nation together as one people,” Dr. Baldwin said.
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It’s a topic they are uniquely qualified to tackle. But understanding why is understanding women’s intertwined histories.
Betty, a farmer’s daughter, grew up in Fort Royal, Virginia, where she would eventually help erase segregation.
“On February 18, 1959, 23 African-American students walked up the hill to Warren County High School,” Baldwin said. “I’m one of them.”
She talks about this experience in her book “WIT, WILL & WALLS,” which she calls her historical autobiography.
Kilby’s upbringing was much different. Born and raised in Baltimore, she attended Bryn Mawr, a school she credits for opening her eyes to racial inequalities.
“I grew up in a family where my father spoke disparagingly about African-Americans,” says Kilby. “But then I went to Bryn Mawr and I had great teachers who taught me to think for myself. And, as I got older, I started to see things differently from my father. ”
As she later grew up, she came to know, “Coming To The Table”, a show that brought together the descendants of slaves and the descendants of those enslaved by them.
“When I heard about this, I thought, ‘Well, I wonder if my family enslaves people? ,’ recalls Kilby. “My family never talked about it, so I did some research, and I determined very quickly that they did and I found Betty.”
She would eventually discover Betty’s book, and after reading it she knew she had to reach out.
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“I really wanted to meet her,” Kilby said. “I wanted to meet this person who at 14 years old was able to defy her authority to fit into her school.”
On Martin Luther King Jr Day in 2007, she wrote Baldwin an email.
Baldwin said: ‘I’m so excited because suddenly here is the white Kilby communicating with me. “And then she quoted Dr. Martin Luther King. She had me, the moment she said, ‘We, as the daughters of former slave-owners and slave-owners, perhaps we can sit down at the table of brotherhood.’ It is me. “
Baldwin would reply a few weeks later, with the subject line: “Hello Cousin.”
“It was something I knew that we were connected and we were related by blood,” Betty said.
A DNA test that would prove it true led them to write their book, “Cousins: Connected Through Slavery”.
Two women – one white, one black – tied by history in their journey towards racial reconciliation.
“Our country is divided at this time,” Baldwin said. “If you look at the relationship that Phoebe and I had, it started with generations being separated, and we came together. …. If we can do it, you can too and even Dr. Martin Luther King talked about, after all the wars, that we must create communities of love based on truth, reconciliation. and love. ”
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https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/03/28/kindred-connection-two-women-embark-on-journey-of-racial-reconciliation/ Two women embark on a journey of racial reconciliation – CBS Baltimore