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Harvey Gantt has a pair of notable historic triumphs under his belt. After he became the first Black student admitted to Clemson State University in 1963, and later went on to become Charlotte, N.C.’s first Black mayor. Today is his birthday.

Born Harvey Bernard Gantt in 1943, he was raised in Charleston, S.C. After initially attending Iowa State University, he returned to his home state to enter Clemson and was denied. He successfully sued the school and the U.S. Court of Appeals granted his entry on January 16, 1963.

After leaving Clemson in 1965 with an architecture degree with honors, Gantt attended MIT and earned a Master’s of City Planning in 1970. Entering into politics shorty after, Gantt was elected to the Charlotte City Council in North Carolina, serving from 1974 to 1983. Gantt was then elected mayor of the city, serving two terms before leaving office in 1987.

After a pair of failed U.S. Senate bids, Gantt continued working in architecture while also engaging in guest teaching posts and civil rights activism, something he first started while he was in high school. Along with his wife Lucinda, who was the second Black student admitted to Clemson, the couple remains a fixture of Charlotte’s scene.

The city erected an African-American Arts and Culture facility named after Gantt, and the Gantts also have their names emblazoned on a multi-cultural center at Clemson.

PHOTO: Screenshot


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