Just this weekend I read that Benjamin E. Mays was born to sharecroppers (and former slaves) in Greenwood County, South Carolina, on 1 August, 1895.
Shame on me, but I had never heard of him. Turns out he was the youngest of eight children, a true American success story, growing up in poverty and ultimately becoming one of America’s most influential educators. He was dean of Howard University’s School of Religion from 1934-40 before assuming the presidency of Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
After serving as president for 27 years, he became a member of Atlanta’s Board of Education, becoming its first black president. Looking back on his time at Morehouse, Martin Luther King Jr. said that the eloquent and mesmerizing sermons and lectures of Professor Mays were among his most important college experiences.
The following quote from Professor Mays seems a most appropriate guide for how to live one’s life:
“The circumference of life cannot be rightly drawn until the center is set.”
In the words of the ancient Hebrew prayer for the dead: “May his soul be forever bound up in the eternal bonds of life.”