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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. He was 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.
Mays earned an M.A. in 1925 and a PhD. in the School of Religion in 1935. 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.
His education in 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 South Carolina State College. Mays was a militant civil rights advocate and was president of Morehouse College while Martin Luther King, Jr., attended. Benjamin E. Mays, who delivered the eulogy at King's funeral, died in 1984.