Viola King Barnett (1891-)
Laundress and Public School Advocate
Mars Hill, NC
“I was baptized in the middle of the Swannanoa River. I seen the light and it made me feel surer that I was right when I seen that light.”
Viola King Barnett is still remembered in her rural mountain community for having been the one who“asked around” for buses to transport black children to public high schools twenty-five miles away in Asheville, and the superintendent agreed. She had learned from her parents, who worked on the Vanderbilt Estate, and from the families at Mars Hill College that there were resources that could help others advance and make a living for herself. On the long walks into town to return fresh laundry to faculty and students, she was a picture of dignity and perseverance, and her friends were many.