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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.

Reference:
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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