A Special Note

The authors’ proceeds from this book will be donated to the Kilby Family Endowed Scholarship Fund, a reparations project which Phoebe and Betty conceived of together.

The Kilby Family Endowed Scholarship Fund provides scholarships to descendants of persons enslaved in Culpeper, Rappahannock, and Madison counties, Virginia, prior to the end of the Civil War in 1865.

Preference is given to descendants of persons enslaved by John Kilby of Culpeper County, VA (1715-1772), and by his lineal descendants who were enslavers.

“This endowment was established to honor these enslaved persons and their descendants in recognition of their strength and resilience, and to contribute to making amends for their mistreatment.”

Readers are invited to contribute to this endowment: poisefoundation.org/kilby-family-endowed-scholarship-fund

Thank you.


Connected through slavery, a Black woman and a White woman discover their past—and each other.


Betty Kilby Baldwin & Phoebe Kilby

What happens when a White woman, Phoebe, contacts a Black woman, Betty, saying she suspects they are connected through slavery? First surprise? Betty responds, “Hello, Cousin.”

Integration of Warren County High School, February 18, 1959.

Betty had fought for an education and won. She broke through the concrete ceiling in the workplace and succeeded. A documentary of her life was about to debut. Without thinking, she invites Phoebe to a family dinner and the premiere of the documentary. Second surprise? She forgot to tell her family who was coming to dinner.

Betty finds an activist partner in Phoebe. Cousins indeed, they commit to a path of reconciliation.

CJP Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program Planning Team. Rear from left: Warigia Hinga (Kenya), Dekha Abdi (Kenya), Koila Costello-Olsson (Fiji), Phoebe Kilby (US), Alma Jadallah (US/Middle East), Daria White (Bulgaria/US). Front from left: Elaine Barge (US), Paulette Moore (US), Rubina Bhatti (Pakistan), Lauren Sauer (US), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), Jan Jenner (US).

In alternating chapters, each tells her dramatic story—from Betty’s experience as one of the first Black children to attend her desegregated school, to Phoebe’s eventual question to Betty: “How do I begin to repair the harms?”

Piercingly honest. Includes a working reparations project which the two women conceived together.

Betty and Phoebe have been interviewed on the BBC and were recently featured in a special on Netflix.

About the Authors

Betty (left) and Phoebe

Dr. Betty Kilby Fisher Baldwin grew up in rural Culpeper and Warren counties, Virginia, one of five children. Thanks to her father’s determination, she entered and graduated from Warren County High School after suing the school board, based on the landmark Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954.

Betty started her employment as a factory worker and climbed the corporate ladder to achieve executive management employment. After she retired, she wrote and published her autobiography, Wit, Will & Walls.

Betty has four children. She and her husband David live in Conroe, TX. Betty is actively involved in Coming to the Table, and speaks frequently with Phoebe about making connections across the racial divide to create a more just and peaceful world.

Phoebe Kilby grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where she lived with her physician father, mother, and sister. Phoebe had a long career as an urban and environmental planner, working on contracts with local, state, and federal governments.

With concerns about the morality and wisdom of war and a growing interest in peace, Phoebe studied extensively at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University.

A descendant of enslavers, Phoebe was inspired by the Coming to the Table movement to connect with descendants of persons her family enslaved. She is dedicated to helping others, European Americans and African Americans together, to uncover and explore the truths of their experiences and move toward racial reconciliation. With Betty, she continues to pursue a common grace.

Price: $14.99

Pages: 244

Size: 5.5 x 8.5

ISBN: 9781947597426

Reviewers LOVE this book!

I highly recommend this amazing story of racial reconciliation.

Leymah Gbowee

Nobel Peace Prize winner

I’m very excited about this remarkable book. I hope the experiences of Betty and Phoebe will inspire others to sit down at the table of sisterhood and brotherhood to promote racial healing.

Tim Kaine

U.S. Senator from Virginia

A compelling read! “With truth, reparations, racial healing, and reimagining public safety initiatives proliferating in hundreds of municipalities throughout the country at historic levels today, Cousins is a story that could not be more timely.

Fania E. Davis

Social Justice activist, Civil Rights attorney, Restorative Justice leader

I LOVED Cousins. A must-read for everyone committed to racial healing and justice. Betty’s and Phoebe’s lives couldn’t be more different, growing up. Yet once they found each other, they committed to healing and repair. A powerful book!

Thomas Norman DeWolf

Author of Inheriting the Trade and Co-Manager of Coming to the Table

This powerful book weaves together the eloquent stories of two impressive women—stories of survival, determination, and awakening, of honesty, spirituality, and success. They give us a detective story and a mystery, a reconciliation and a celebration. A reader will be grateful for all of them.

Edward L. Ayers

Recipient of the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama

Cousins is a wonderful book! I was charmed by the story of these two amazing women. Stunningly rich with hometown history. […] A marvelous blueprint for anyone seeking to mend the past and redefine family.

Danita Rountree Green

Trauma healing facilitator and playwright

A two-woman racial reconciliation juggernaut!

Baltimore Sun

This very engaging book tells the courageous journey of these cousins—one Black and one White—to discover and overcome their connected pasts. […]Their story offers inspiration for others to undertake their own journeys. Highly recommended.

Howard Zehr

Pioneer in Restorative Justice movement, author of Changing Lenses and The Little Book of Restorative Justice

Cousins is a riveting story, highlighting the possibility of healing. The openness and vulnerability with which Betty and Phoebe share their stories capture you. […] The journey they invite us on is a story that everyone needs to read.

Jodie Geddes

Co-Manager of Coming to the Table and Co-Author of The Little Book of Racial Healing

A completely unpredictable roller coaster of a book that will break your heart, make you enraged, teach you about dialogue, and ultimately deepen your belief in the potential of racial reconciliation.

Dr. David Wiley Campt

Principal of The Dialogue Company and Creator of The White Ally Toolkit

Download the Cousins Study Guide

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