- Marc A. Sennewald
civil rights activist and politician. Harvey Bernard Gantt was born in 1943, in a Charleston, South Carolina, housing project. His father, Christopher Columbus Gantt Jr., worked as a shipyard mechanic by day and a dry cleaner by night, eventually saving enough money to buy a small house for his wife and five children.
As a teenager, Gantt protested racial segregation by trying to buy a soda at a whites-only lunch counter and was arrested for trespassing. In 1963, with the assistance of the NAACP, Gantt successfully desegregated the previously all-white Clemson University. His unobtrusive manner helped to avoid the violence (fifty injuries and two deaths) that had accompanied the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi a year earlier. Gantt earned his bachelor's degree in architecture from Clemson and a master's degree in urban planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1974 ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.