Aug. 1, 2019

Back In The Mecca's Hey-Day One Day At Howard University, Celebrating Benjamin E. Mays

I sometimes wonder what it must have been like being a student at Howard University prior to the period when the black brain drains with the advent of integration. On any given day during the hey-day of Dr. Mordecai Johnson's presidential tenure at Howard University, you could see so many black intellectual giants. As I am reading Lay Bare The Heart, James Farmer's autobiography of the civil rights movement. It gives one that unique feeling of the magnitude captured by those who enriched Howard University's campus.

Just think you could run into or being taught by giants like Howard Thurman, a man who was thought to have played a major role in the development of Martin Luther King Jr when Dr. King was in seminary school in Boston. You could, of course, see Alain Locke, the very first black Rhodes Scholar, and the so-called Father of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke's work in Survey Magazine on the New Negro set the stage for the acknowledgment of black excellence across this nation. E. Franklin Frazier whose seminal sociology studies on urban black life was certainly groundbreaking. Look over there is that, yes, of course, it's the Father of Black History, Carter G. Woodson having a heated discussion with Rayford Logan and Charles Wesley, three of the greatest black historians this country ever created. Walking across the manicured lawns of Howard University's yard and seeing Ralph Bunche, who would go on to be the first black Nobel Prize Winner. Stopping in the Law School in discussing the enforcement of civil rights with Abram Harris and Charles Houston. Did you know John Hope Franklin taught at Howard University? Sterlin Browne was also a professor on Howard University's campus. Also, W.E.B. Dubois was a tenured professor at Howard University. You also see Dr. Kelly Miller whose developmental plans for the Howard University's School of Arts & Sciences was replicated by numerous HBCU's across the South. All in a day's work visiting the Mecca of Black Intelligentsia in Washington DC.

However, today's post is celebrating Benjamin Elijah Mays, who was the Dean of Howard University School of Religion. Before on August 1, 1936, being named President of Morehouse College, eighty-three years. Dr. Mays was instrumental in nurturing the mind of Martin Luther King Jr. before he set off to Boston for his divinity studies. Dr. Mays is recognized as the eminent educational leader in our country. Today, I celebrate Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, with a reading of his speech, The New South, which he gave in 1951 to the National Conference of the NAACP in Atlanta, Georgia. Before integration, black colleges may have been lacking in financial resources but they surely weren't lacking in brain resources. If we only could've kept those minds from venturing off to white institutions. Oh, how great would the HBCU's have been in future days with the financial resources allocated to the primarily white institutions?

In 1951 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, then President of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia was already one of the most prominent African American educators in the United States.
Dr. Mays's brilliance was unquestioned and his social foresight was without measure. He, however, couldn't have forecasted the level of bigotry and racial hatred that was being fomented in this nation. He believed that the shining light of racial cooperation would overcome the glimmering light of racial oppression. Today, in 2019 we still seek that New South that Dr. Benjamin Mays envisioned​ on June 27, 1951.​