Born to parents of formerly enslaved people turned tenant farmers, he obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. In 1934, Howard University appointed Mays Dean of the School of Religion, where he served until 1940.
That same year, he landed the position of president at Morehouse College, where he stayed for 27 years.
As a student at Morehouse, a young Martin Luther King Jr. often attended Mays’ popular Tuesday morning chapels. Mays and King developed a close mentorship and friendship that they maintained until King’s assassination. Mays delivered the eulogy at King’s funeral.
Dr. Mays died in Atlanta on March 28, 1984.
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