August 1990

Benjamin E. Mays, PhD

Educator

Benjamin E. Mays, PhD

The small town of Epworth in Greenwood County saw one of its sons go on to become one of the most influential educators in American history. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., identified Dr. Benjamin E. Mays as one of the most important influences in his life. Dr. Mays was president of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Dr. King’s alma mater, from 1940 until 1967. Students at Morehouse held planning sessions in the home of Dr. Mays before beginning sit-in demonstrations in Atlanta restaurants to help launch the sixties civil rights movement. Educated at South Carolina State College and the University of Chicago, Dr. Mays taught at SC State and served as dean of the School of Religion at Howard University before beginning sit-in demonstrations in Atlanta restaurants to help launch the Sixties civil rights movement. Educated at South Carolina State College and the University of Chicago, Dr. Mays taught at SC State and served as dean of the School of Religion at Howard University before becoming president of Morehouse. In 1970, he became the first black president of the Atlanta Board of Education. He also served as chairman of the United Negro College Fund. Dr. Mays’ writings have been an inspiration to scores of Americans. He has written several books, including two autobiographies. One of his memorable and poignant statements is, “Whatever you do, do it well so that no man living, no man dead, and no man yet to be born could ever do it better.”