Born To Rebel, Driven To Excel, Part 1 - Introduction | Carolina Stories

Dr. Benjamin Mays, educator, minister, and scholar, is seen as one of the most significant figures in American history. His influence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would cause America to change its course forever. Benjamin Mays: the Father of the Civil Rights Movement. This is his story.

Benjamin Elijah Mays was born the youngest of eight children, in the community of Epworth, South Carolina, in 1894. Mays’ childhood was filled with rough experiences; exposed to riots, and tense racial relations between whites and African-Americans. His motivation to fight for civil rights began at a very early age. Also at a young age, Mays showed passion for wanting an education, even in the face of disapproval from his father. After pleading with this father to get an education, Mays left Epworth to attend high school at S.C. State College in Orangeburg County. After graduation, he would find himself at Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine. There, he made his first white friends, and was treated with respect.