United for Libraries to designate the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site a Literary Landmark

For Immediate Release
Tue, 07/31/2018


Jillian Wentworth

Manager of Marketing & Membership

United for Libraries


GREENWOOD, S.C. – United for Libraries, in partnership with South Carolina State Library, South Carolina Academy of Authors, and Friends of South Carolina Libraries, will designate the GLEAMNS Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site in Greenwood, S.C., a Literary Landmark on Wednesday, Aug. 1 at 10 a.m.

Coming from impoverished, humbled beginnings, Dr. Mays (1894-1984) is remembered as an influential activist, intellectual, minister and leader during the civil rights movement, becoming one of the greatest international mentors of his generation. He became president of Morehouse College in 1940, where Dr. Martin Luther King graduated in 1948. King cited Mays as a mentor and father-figure. Mays published nearly 2000 articles and 9 books throughout his career.

Dr. Mays’ birth home, previously listed as one of South Carolina’s 11 Most Endangered Properties, was originally located in a pasture in southeast Greenwood County in the community of Epworth. In 2004, the South Carolina Palmetto Conservation Foundation purchased the home from the owners, repaired it, and moved it to its current site.  In 2011, GLEAMNS (serving Greenwood, Laurens, Edgefield, Abbeville, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties) Human Resources established the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site to honor and display the life of Dr. Mays.

The event will feature a keynote address from Dr. Randal Maurice Jelks, professor of American and African American Studies at the University of Kansas, and author of “Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography.” Dr.  Jelks will discuss the significance of Dr. Mays as a literary presence in black academia in the early 20th century.

Additional speakers will include Tom Mack, board chair of the South Carolina Academy of Authors; Marlena White, president of Friends of South Carolina Libraries, and Leesa Aiken, agency director of the South Carolina State Library. South Carolina State Senator Floyd Nicholson and State Representative J. Anne Parks will be in attendance as well.

The Literary Landmark program is administered by United for Libraries. Since the conception of the program in 1986, more than 165 Literary Landmarks across the United States have been dedicated. Any library or group may apply for a Literary Landmark through United for Libraries; visit www.ala.org/united/products_services/literarylandmarks.

United for Libraries: The Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations, is a division of the American Library Association with approximately 4,000 personal and group members representing hundreds of thousands of library supporters. United for Libraries supports those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for libraries, and brings together library trustees, advocates, friends, and foundations into a partnership that creates a powerful force for libraries in the 21st century. To join, please visit www.ala.org/united or call (800) 545-2433, ext. 2161.