Benjamin Elijah Mays Memorial
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Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays was a giant in the Christian ministry and American education. He is remembered for his outstanding leadership and service as a teacher, preacher, mentor, scholar, author, and activist in the civil rights movement.
Born August 1, 1894 near Epworth, South Carolina, Dr. Hayes was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bates College in Maine and served as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church from 1921-1923 in Atlanta, Georgia. Recruited by Morehouse President John Hope, Mays would join the faculty as a mathematics teacher and debate coach. He obtained a master's degree in 1925 and in 1935 earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. In 1934, he was appointed dean of the School of Religion at Howard University and served until 1940.
Dr. Mays became president of Morehouse College in 1940 and launched a 27-year tenure that shepherded the institution into international prominence. He upgraded the faculty, secured a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, and sustained enrollment during wartime America. His most noted forum was Tuesday morning Chapel in historic Sale Hall, where he challenged and inspired the students to excellence in scholarship and in life itself. One of Morehouse's most distinguished graduates, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. '48, remembers Dr. Mays as his "spiritual mentor" and "intellectual father."
Upon his retirement, Dr. Mays served as president of the Atlanta Board of Education from 1970 to 1981.Throughout his educational career, he would receive 56 honorary degrees, including a posthumously awarded degree from Columbia University. He published nearly 2000 articles and nine books. In 1926, he married Sadie Gray, a teacher and social worker, who died in 1969. Dr. Mays died in 1984.
Bacote, Clarence A. The Story of Atlanta University, A Century of Service, 1865-1965. Atlanta, GA: Atlanta University, 1969.
Campus Master Plan, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA, 2002.
Carter, Edward R. The Black Side; A Partial History of the Business, Religious, and Educational Side of the Negro in Atlanta, Ga. Atlanta, GA, 1894.
Jones, Edward A. A Candle in the Dark, A History of Morehouse College. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1967.