How Our Family Embraces Racial Redemption

Our journeys of racial redemption started at opposite ends of the continent.

Tracy was born in rural East Texas during the heart of the Civil Rights movement. A child of proud Black educators, Tracy experienced and persevered through discrimination from her earliest years. Moving from a rural setting in the South to urban Minneapolis in the Upper Midwest as a young child did not mean leaving discrimination behind. The North was no racial nirvana, and the reality of discrimination was even more pronounced.

Peter was born in rural, arctic Alaska just a year after Tracy. His birthplace was far removed from the social reckoning sweeping through most of the United States at the time. Peter, whose parents were white educators, had a different experience of being a minority among the many cultural communities of Indigenous Alaskans. On the “last frontier,” focused on survival, the diverse communities of Alaska relied on one another and interacted with shared purpose and mutual respect.

We didn’t set out to make our life about racial redemption, but our origin story made it kind of inevitable.

As God ordained our paths, we walked onto campus at Biola University in southern California on the same day in the mid-1980s. We met after two white students and their parents refused to share a dorm room with Tracy. Openly agitated at the idea of their daughters rooming with “a black,” they waited until Tracy left and then moved all of her belongings onto an empty bed down the hall. What motivated them was evil, but God redeemed it for good because the empty bed was next to a friend of Peter’s who promptly introduced Tracy and Peter.

Five years later, our path led us down an aisle and into the adventure of marriage that has shaped us for 33 years. We formed our biracial family and then expanded it as six kids arrived—via both the hospital and the airport.

After two birth kids, we adopted our three oldest children—siblings from Ethiopia—and grew our young household from four to seven overnight. Two years later, we had one more child, who completed our family of eight. We celebrate a community of Black and white, American and Ethiopian under one roof. We didn’t set out to make our life about racial redemption, but our origin story made it kind of inevitable.

Where None of Us Reflects Our Creator Nearly as Well as All of Us.

In his work as a high school teacher and administrator in Minnesota and Colorado, Peter experienced campaigns at various schools and districts to “Celebrate Diversity,” alongside expectations to be colorblind and impartial. Yet, despite such overt claims of harmony, he witnessed hostility and insecurity in all types of relationships.

Peter and Tracy Hilts
Peter and Tracy Hilts
Peter and Tracy Hilts live in Colorado, where they raised six children. They now have an empty nest and grandchildren close by. Tracy has served as a pastor, counselor, seminary professor, hospital and hospice chaplain—and is currently leading Living Hope Covenant Church. Peter has invested 30 years in public education and currently serves as the chief education officer for School District 49 in Colorado Springs.

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