Lander to host Mays Panel on November 5


Story by Deb Nygro

On Nov. 5-7, the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site will celebrate its 10th anniversary, and Lander University is partnering with organizers to host and participate in the weekend of festivities. All programs are open to the community.

On Friday, Nov. 5, Lander is hosting a panel of distinguished scholars to reflect on Dr. Mays’ life and legacy as a mentor to many in the civil rights movement. The program, titled “The Legacy of the Schoolmaster,” begins at 6 p.m. in the Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium, followed by a reception.

Featured panelists include:

  • Dr. Randal Jelks, Professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Kansas, and author of “Benjamin Elijah Mays, Schoolmaster of the Movement: A Biography.”
  • Dr. John Roper, Teaching Associate in History at Coastal Carolina University and author of “The Magnificent Mays: A Biography of Benjamin Elijah Mays.” Roper was previously a Richardson Professor of American History at Emory & Henry College in Virginia.
  • Dr. Orville Vernon Burton, Judge Matthew Perry Distinguished Chair in History at Clemson University and author of many acclaimed works on Southern history.

Dr. Kevin Witherspoon, Professor of History and Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair at Lander University, will serve as moderator. Witherspoon’s expertise is in modern diplomatic and sports history, but his published works address issues of civil rights, race and social change. He has served as a consultant to both the National Archives and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. Witherspoon will be formally installed as the Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair as part of this event.

This event is co-sponsored by Lander University’s Department of History and Philosophy, the GLEAMNS Dr. Benjamin E. Mays Historical Preservation Site and the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University.

The following day, the University’s gospel choir, Minorities on the Move (MOM’s Choir), will perform at the Mays Historical Preservation Site during the 10 a.m. program “A Legacy Worth Preserving.” Held on Saturday, Nov. 6, at the GLEAMNS campus (237 N. Hospital Street in Greenwood), the program will feature keynote speaker Dr. Randal Jelks, Professor of African-American Studies at the University of Kansas.

On Sunday, Nov. 7, a worship service, held at the childhood church of Dr. Mays, will conclude the weekend of reflective activities. Led by the theme “Lord the People Have Driven Me On,” the service will focus on the power of religious communities. The service begins at 10:45 a.m. at the Old Mt. Zion Baptist Church near the Epworth community in Ninety Six.

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