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Benjamin Elijah Mays

​​Benjamin_Mays_Portrait_1921.pngBenjamin Elijah Mays (August 1, 1894 – March 28, 1984) was born in Epworth, South Carolina. He was an American Baptist minister and American rights leader who is credited with laying the intellectual foundations of the American civil rights movement. Mays taught and mentored many influential activists, including Martin Luther King Jr, Julian Bond, Maynard Jackson, and Donn Clendenon, among others. The peak of his public influence coincided with his nearly three-decade tenure as the sixth president of Morehouse College, a historically black institution of higher learning, in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1969, Mays was elected to the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education. He was the first African American to be president of the board. During his tenure, he supervised the desegregation of the schools and appointed the first African American superintendent of schools, Alonzo Crim. During his career, Mays advised three US presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter.