he descendant of a slave is about to enter Mars Hill College, bringing to an end 105 years of segregation at the Baptist school in western North Carolina.* Her admittance means something more: the payoff of a novel moral debt.
The founders of little Mars Hill were in trouble as soon as they laid the last handmade brick on the first building in 1856. They owed the contractors $1,100; the treasury was empty. While they frantically passed the hat, the builders slapped a judgment on the Rev. J. W. Anderson, future secretary of the college. The Rev. Mr. Anderson owned a Negro named Joe –a strapping young man easily worth $1,100 on the slave market in nearby Asheville. Some say that Joe himself volunteered to be a human surety. The builders took him to jail for safekeeping. Four days later, when the founders raised the cash. Mars Hill was saved.