Betty Kilby was gripped with apprehension. Descendants of the white family that enslaved her kin were coming to dinner.
She scrolled through a mental Rolodex of relatives who might flip out. Her brothers had already asked her: Why would you want to meet the family of those who held our loved ones in bondage?
“When they ask that question,” she says, “you kind of scratch your head. It makes sense. Why would you want to do that?”
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As the dinner neared, she thought of her grandparents, who had toiled in the fields of rural Rappahannock County, Virginia. “Out of all the crazy things I’ve done,” she thought, “this has got to be the craziest.”
Betty had faced down racism, and white people, before. She was one of the first African-Americans to attend a desegregated school in Virginia. She’d even written a book about it.
But this dinner, though weeks in the making, would test her in a new way.