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About the Book

Beyond the Book

352 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 23 halftones, notes, bibl., index

Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement

A Biography


In this first full-length biography of Benjamin Mays (1894-1984), Randal Maurice Jelks chronicles the life of the man Martin Luther King Jr. called his "spiritual and intellectual father." Dean of the Howard University School of Religion, president of Morehouse College, and mentor to influential black leaders, Mays had a profound impact on the education of the leadership of the black church and of a generation of activists, policymakers, and educators. Jelks argues that Mays's ability to connect the message of Christianity with the responsibility to challenge injustice prepared the black church for its pivotal role in the civil rights movement.

From Mays's humble origins in Epworth, South Carolina, through his doctoral education, his work with institutions such as the National Urban League, the NAACP, and the national YMCA movement, and his significant career in academia, Jelks creates a rich portrait of the man, the teacher, and the scholar. Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement is a powerful portrayal of one man’s faith, thought, and mentorship in bringing American apartheid to an end.

About the Author

Randal Maurice Jelks is associate professor of American Studies and African American Studies at the University of Kansas and author of African Americans in the Furniture City: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Grand Rapids.


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