South Carolina Department of Archives and History
National Register Properties in South Carolina

Benjamin Mays Birthplace, Greenwood County (w of jct. Of U.S. Hwy. 179 and Scotts Ferry Rd., Epworth vicinity)
Left Oblique

Dr. Benjamin Mays, a much-honored educator, civil rights advocate, and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born near Epworth in a small wooden frame house. In his autobiography Born to Rebel, Dr. Mays explained that he was influenced greatly by his early years in this house. Here, between 1894 and 1900, Mays witnessed the violent Phoenix Riot that killed at least seven blacks, and began his education in a one-room schoolhouse down the road. Mays helped his family farm the forty to sixty acres that they rented along with the house from the white property owners. The house is a one-story, L-shaped frame tenant farmer’s house with a rear extension, a raised seam metal roof, and a one-story shed roofed porch across the facade. Noting that he had to leave South Carolina to get the education he desired, Mays graduated with honors from Bates College in 1920, finished his Ph.D. in religion at the University of Chicago in 1935, and became the Dean of the School of Religion at Howard University. Mays became president of Morehouse College in 1940; in 1944 Martin Luther King, Jr. enrolled at Morehouse. The two became well acquainted, and King later noted that Dr. Mays had been one of the great influences in his life. Listed in the National Register May 18, 1998. The Benjamin Mays Birthplace has since been moved. Removed from the National Register December 8, 2005.

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