Benjamin Elijah Mays was born in the town of Epworth, southeast of Greenwood, August 1894.
A son of former slaves, Mays' childhood played a key role in shaping the man that he would become. His earliest memory was of a white mob that approached his family's home on horseback, forcing his father to remove his hat and bow before them repeatedly.
Mays left Epworth to attend high school in Orangeburg at South Carolina State College. In 1916 he graduated as class valedictorian.
It was as President of Morehouse, from 1940 to 1967, that Mays achieved his widest scope of influence in civil rights and education.