If it weren’t for Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, would the world know Martin Luther King Jr? Probably not. Mays, a Greenwood, SC, native and Civil Rights activist, mentored King during his years at Atlanta’s Morehouse College.
Mays served as president of Morehouse College (now Morehouse University) from 1940 to 1967. He also advised Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter. At the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site in Greenwood, SC, visitors look back to the time of Mays childhood.
In addition to the cabin where Dr. Mays lived, the site also features a one-room schoolhouse like the one Mays attended and a museum with photographs, excerpts from Mays’ speeches (including his eulogy for Dr. King) and other artifacts. The Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site has been established on the campus of GLEAMNS Human Resources Commission, a present day active community center. This site was chosen because of its historical significance.
Coming from impoverish, humbled beginnings, Dr. Mays rose to become one of the greatest international leaders of his generation. The Mays Site serves as a reflection to the next generation that education, determination, and hard work are the essential tools for breaking the walls of poverty and building the ladder to self-sufficiency. The city of Greenwood celebrates the legacy of this man even today, some 33 years after his death. Dr. Mays’ birth home, previously listed as one of South Carolina’s Eleven Most Endangered Properties, was originally located in a pasture in Southeast Greenwood County in the community of Epworth. In 2004, the SC Palmetto Conservation Foundation purchased the home from the owners and moved it to its current site. Extensive repairs had to be made to the building because of its dilapidated condition. Today, it is one of the most historic attractions in South Carolina.
Open Monday-Tuesdays, 9:00am- 2:00 pm, Wednesdays-Friday, 9:00am- 2:30pm, closed Saturday and Sunday. For group tours, call for appointment, 864-229-8833. Free admission.