The HONORABLE Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays
Benjamin Elijah Mays was born on August 1, 1894 in Epworth, South Carolina. Born during a time of extreme segregation and racism, young Bennie was determined to make education his escape from the South and his tool to combat injustice. He began his collegiate studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine and graduated as an honor student in 1920. He continued his studies at University of Chicago where he earned a Master’s degree and a Doctorate from the School of Religion.
From 1935-1940 Dr. Mays served as Dean of the Howard University School of Religion. Dr. Mays credits his 1936 trip to India as a pivotal time in his life. During this trip, he met Mahatma Ghandi and began to focus on non-violence as a way to combat the racial injustices in the United States. He would eventually become known as an outspoken critic of segregation and a great influence to the Civil Rights Movement. He served as a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and eulogized him at his funeral.
In 1940 Dr. Mays became the President of the Morehouse College where he served in that position for twenty-seven years. During this time, Dr. Mays headed and worked within several organizations. He worked with the NAACP, the YMCA, World Council of Churches, National Baptist Convention, the Peace Corps Advisory Committee and countless others that called on him for leadership. In 1950 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays was recognized by the Pittsburgh Courier as ONE OF THE 12 MOST POWERFUL MEN IN AMERICA.
During his lifetime, Dr. Mays authored nine books, approximately two thousand articles and received fifty-six honorary degrees. In 1970 Dr. Mays became the first African American President of the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education. Dr. Mays presided peacefully over the desegregation of Atlanta Public Schools.Later, Dr. Mays would become the first living African American male to have a school named in his honor. Mays High School sits high on a hill at 3450 Benjamin E. Mays Dr. For this, WE, the ALUMNI of B. E. Mays are eternally grateful. We HONOR this great LEGACY and STRIVE to uphold the shining image left by Dr. Mays.