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Thu, 08.01.1895

Benjamin E. Mays, educator, administrator, clergyman, and activist

Benjamin E. Mays

On this date in 1895, Benjamin E. Mays was born. He was a Black educator, college president, activist, clergyman, and administrator.

Benjamin Elijah Mays was from Ninety Six, South Carolina, the youngest of eight children; his parents were tenant farmers and former slaves.  After spending a year at Virginia Union University, he moved north to attend Bates College in Maine, where he obtained his B.A. in 1920. He then entered the University of Chicago as a graduate student, earning an M.A. in 1925 and a Ph.D. in the School of Religion in 1935.

His education at Chicago was interrupted several times. He was ordained a Baptist minister in 1922, and accepted a pastorate at the Shiloh Baptist Church of Atlanta. Later, he taught at Morehouse and at South Carolina State College.

While in graduate school Mays worked as a Pullman Porter. He also worked as a student assistant to Dr. Lacey Kirk Williams, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago and president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.  Mays was a militant civil rights advocate and was president of Morehouse College while Martin Luther King, Jr., attended. Mays delivered the eulogy at King's funeral. Benjamin E. Mays died in 1984.

Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century.
Edited by Leon Litwack and August Meier
Copyright 1998, University if Illinois Press
ISBN 0-252-06213-2

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