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Posted: February 9, 2011 5:39 a.m.

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Kitty Boyd descendents get respect

Sabastian Wee/

Emotions ran high on Sunday at Old Church in Oxford as descendants of a slave, Kitty Boyd, received a formal apology from Emory University for the college’s history with slavery.

The church was packed with people from across Georgia to witness a historical moment in African-American history. Tears were visible as speakers discussed the struggles and resiliency of their ancestors.

Boyd descendants Darcel and Cynthia Caldwell accepted the recognition from Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry at the event, which reflected on Oxford’s legacy of slavery and its aftermath. Roseberry dedicated Feb. 6 in honor of Nathan and Catherine "Kitty" Boyd.

"This is a piece of history," said Conyers resident Agnes Morehead, who was among the attendees on Sunday. "I heard about it and I had to come. When old history is being revealed, I become curious."

Emory University President James Wagner held back tears as he expressed ‘regret’ for the institution’s history with slavery, discrimination and segregation.

Emory founders used slaves to build and support the college in its early days. Emory’s founders also were influential in driving the North-South schism in the Methodist Episcopal Church leading up the Civil War.

The event also featured the unveiling of artist Lynn Marshall-Linnimeier’s "Unraveling Kitty’s Cloak," a 30-foot-long fabric quilt, which reflects Boyd’s life and includes photos and other images from the Oxford community.

"I’m moved by the generosity and friendship of the people here," said Darcel Caldwell after the ceremony. "My sister and I are just two examples of the descendants of people who don’t know who their families are. With the focus and attention on this subject, I hope to serve as a steward for all the rest of the people who cannot experience this."

The event concluded at the Oxford city cemetery, where flowers were laid at the grave of Boyd. Words of remembrance were administered by the Rev. Avis Williams.

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