Benjamin Elijah Mays | SC Hall of Fame

Benjamin Mays (1894-1984) was a minister, educator, scholar and social activist. He was known as the "Father of the Civil Rights Movement." 

Mays was born the youngest in his family and his parents were both former slaves. He grew up in Epworth, South Carolina, just a few miles from Greenwood in a time in history of rigid segregation. This became the defining period of his life and he longed to get an education. 

After pleading with his father he was allowed to go to SC State College to finish his high school degree. He decided he would get a college degree up north where he would have more opportunity. 

The defining moment in Mays career was as president of Morehouse College where he would meet a young Martin Luther King Jr. He was an advisor to US presidents and was recognized internationally as a leader. Mays died in Atlanta on March 28, 1984.

ETV would like to acknowledge the work of Dr. Grace Jordan McFadden, founder and director of USC's Oral History and Cultural Project and Director of African American Studies at the University. Dr. McFadden was the producer of the 25-part series "The Quest for Civil Rights: Oral Recollections of Black South Carolinians," excerpts of which were included in this documentary.