A young man stands in front of books, holding a document and smiling.

Harvey Gantt

Student and civil rights activist

Harvey Gantt (1943 – ), from Charleston, South Carolina, desegregated Clemson University on January 28, 1963. His lawsuit opened the door for racial integration of all South Carolina colleges. Gantt wanted to attend Clemson to study architecture, but the president and board of trustees refused his admission. In 1962, he filed a lawsuit to end the practice of segregation in South Carolina’s colleges. When he won, Gantt became the first African American student to attend an all-White university in the state since Reconstruction. In 1965, he graduated from Clemson with a bachelor’s degree in architecture with honors. After receiving his master’s degree from MIT, Gantt moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and became a pioneer in urban planning. In 1983, he became the first African American mayor of Charlotte.

Image courtesy of The State Newspaper Photograph Archive, Richland Library

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