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Who Is Benjamin Elijah Mays?

dr.-benjamin-mays"It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy of life lies in having no goal to reach."

Benjamin Elijah Mays was born in 1895 in South Carolina. He graduated from Bates College in Maine in 1920 and attended the University of Chicago for his master's and doctorate degrees. He was also ordained as a Baptist minister. He taught at Morehouse College and South Carolina State College. From 1934 to 1940, he served as Dean of Howard University's School of Religion and, afterward, the President of Morehouse College. He was also a civic leader who served as the first black president of the Atlanta school board.

Dr. Mays spoke out, early and often, against segregation and was a strong proponent of education. He received nearly thirty honorary doctorates and other honors and awards, including election to the Schomburg Honor Roll of Race Relations. He was a model for one of his most celebrated Morehouse students, Martin Luther King, Jr., and served as his unofficial senior advisor. He delivered the eulogy at Dr. King's funeral. His books include foundational sociological studies of African-American religion, The Negro's Church and The Negro's God, and his celebrated autobiography, Born to Rebel.