Charlotte; Mayor; North Carolina
Harvey Gantt broke the color barrier in the South by becoming the first black mayor of a large city. He attended Clemson University after being born in Charlotte, North Carolina. A master’s degree in city planning from MIT followed. Gantt was elected mayor of Charlotte in 1983 after a career in the private sector. The city population and economy both expanded during his two stints in office. He subsequently lost his reelection run after being appointed to the U.S. Senate. Since then, Gantt has held positions as both a corporate executive and a city planner.
Charlotte, North Carolina-born architect, entrepreneur, and politician Harvey Gantt is African-American. His tenure as mayor of Charlotte, from 1983 to 1987, makes him the city’s first black mayor. He was also the first black student to attend Clemson. Gantt was born to construction worker parents and a housekeeper on January 14, 1943, in Charleston, South Carolina. He went to a segregated school and lived in a segregated community as a child. As the first black student to attend Clemson University, he made history by majoring in architecture. Gantt relocated to Charlotte after finishing school and started working for an architectural business there. Gantt Huberman Architects was the company he started on his own in 1969. The company is responsible for designing some of Charlotte’s most iconic structures, including the Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte Convention Center, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center. Gantt became the first black mayor of a major Southern city when he was elected mayor of Charlotte in 1983. During his two stints in office, he restored the city center.
Additionally, he advocated for better racial harmony and tried to secure the 1988 Democratic National Convention for the city. Gantt resigned in 1987 to pursue a career in politics, and he ultimately lost his bid for the Senate. Conservative incumbent Jesse Helms of the Republicans beat him by a razor-thin margin. Gantt went back to being an architect after his time in politics. The Charlotte Hornets, Duke Energy, and Bank of America are just a few of the firms and organizations whose boards he has served on.
African-American architect, businessman, and North Carolina politician Harvey Gantt is from Charlotte. The first African-American to attend Clemson University, he also made history as the first black mayor of Charlotte, serving from 1983 to 1987. Gantt was born on January 14, 1943, in Charleston, South Carolina, where he grew up in a segregated area and attended a segregated school. He enrolled at Clemson University in 1961, making history as the institution’s first black student. In 1965, he completed his education with a degree in architecture. Gantt moved to Charlotte and started working for an architectural business there after he finished school. He went out on his own in 1969 to form the firm Gantt Huberman Architects. The firm’s work may be seen in some of Charlotte’s most recognizable structures, including the Afro-American Cultural Center, Charlotte Convention Center, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center. It wasn’t until 1983 that Gantt became the first black mayor of a major Southern city when he successfully campaigned for mayor of Charlotte and was subsequently elected. His first term ended in 1985 when he won a second. Gantt helped improve racial relations and tried to rebuild Charlotte’s downtown during his term in office. His advocacy for the city’s bid to host the 1988 Democratic National Convention was particularly noteworthy.
Gantt resigned from his post in 1987 to pursue a Senate seat. Conservative incumbent Jesse Helms of the Republicans beat him by a razor-thin margin. Gantt returned to work as an architect after his failed run for the Senate. He has also served on the boards of a variety of firms and organizations, such as Bank of America, Duke Energy, and the Charlotte Hornets. Gantt’s influence was felt well beyond the realms of politics and business. Another one of his well-known qualities is his willingness to help others. He’s been involved with the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and other nonprofits.
Moreover, he has endowed scholarships at Clemson University and Johnson C. Smith University, where he earned his undergraduate degree. Charlotte, North Carolina, has significantly benefited from the contributions of Harvey Gantt, an accomplished African-American architect, businessman, and politician. To those who aspire to leadership positions, he is an inspiration and a reminder of the great things that can be accomplished when people work together toward a single objective.
U.S. civil rights pioneer Harvey Gantt was the first African-American to be elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. He made history as the first African-American to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate. Gantt, a Democrat, was a senator for the United States from 1997 to 2003. His term began on January 3. On January 14, 1943, Gantt entered the world as the son of Juanita E. (Waters) and James Gantt in Charleston, South Carolina. His parents worked in the household service industry; his dad and mom cleaned. He went to one of Charleston’s segregated public schools. He made history in 1961 when he enrolled as Clemson University’s first black student. In 1965, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in architecture. Gantt became the city of Charlotte, North Carolina’s first black mayor, in 1969. His two periods in office spanned the years 1969–1977. He challenged Republican Jesse Helms for the Senate seat in 1976 but lost. Gantt was first elected to the Charlotte City Council in 1980 and remained there until his term ended in 1990. His second run for the Senate occurred in 1991; this time, he won, making history as South Carolina’s first African-American senator. From January 3, 1997, until January 3, 2003, he served as president for a single term. Gantt’s academic resume includes stops as a visiting professor at prestigious institutions, including Harvard, MIT, and NC State. He has also participated in corporate governance by sitting on the boards of directors for organizations like Bank of America and Duke Energy.
The Black Male Archives