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“M” is for Mays, Benjamin Elijah (1894-1984)

“M” is for Mays, Benjamin Elijah (1894-1984). Civil rights activist, writer, college president. Born in what is now Greenwood County, Mays—from early childhood—had an insatiable desire for education. After finishing the high school program at South Carolina State College, he graduated from Bates College. Over the next decade he became an ordained Baptist clergman, held various teaching positions, and went to the University of Chicago where he obtained his Ph.D. Mays joined the faculty of Howard University in 1934. In 1940 he accepted the presidency of Morehouse College in Atlanta. For the next twenty-seven years, under his leadership Morehouse became one of the most prestigious Black universities in America. 1970 Benjamin Elijah Mays published his autobiography Born to Rebel, which has stood as an invaluable contribution to the study of American race relations.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.