27th Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Harvey Gantt

Harvey Gantt

Partner, Gantt Huberman Architects, Charlotte, NC

27th Annual MLK Leadership Award

After attending Iowa State University from 1960-62, Harvey Gantt (MLK Visiting Professor 1999-2000) enrolled at Clemson University in 1963 under a federal court order, becoming the first black to attend the previously all-white school in South Carolina. He graduated with honors in 1965 and went on to earn the MCP from MIT in 1970.

A partner in Gantt Huberman Architects in Charlotte, he served as the city's mayor from 1981-87 and ran against longtime incumbent US Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) in 1990 and 1996. He was a visiting professor in the Department of Architecture.

In nominating Mr. Gantt, Professor Bish Sanyal, chair of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, noted his "courageous and historic efforts as an activist mayor and senatorial candidate." He also cited Mr. Gantt's "exceptional commitment to addressing the problems of our nation's inner cities, and the unique roles that architects and planners can bring to this process."

"The genius of Martin Luther King was his humanness," said Mr. Gantt..."He cared about people genuinely, and he was just like you and me with fears and ambition and concerns, but he had this thing about him, this gift, this caring about society in such a way that he moved ordinary men and women... to do something, to being about positive change, and that's a conviction that I moved forward from."


The Education of Harvey Gantt

Producer/Director - Betsy Newman (SouthCarolinaETV)

In 1960, a talented African-American student from Charleston, Harvey Gantt, graduated from high school and decided to become an architect. Clemson College was the only school in South Carolina that offered a degree in his chosen field. In January of 1963, with the help of NAACP lawyer Matthew J. Perry, Gantt won a lawsuit against Clemson and was peacefully admitted to the college, making him the first African-American student to attend a formerly all-white school in South Carolina. The program is narrated by Tony Award-winning actress and singer Phylicia Rashād and features historic civil rights photographs by Cecil Williams.




PROFILE: "Architect and Politician Focuses on Cities"- MIT Alumni Association

MIT News

In MLK talk, Vest notes efforts to advance minority opportunities (2/14/01)
MLK Leadership Awards go to three (1/31/01)
MLK celebration to feature Leaster talk, music and exhibit (2/2/00)
MLK Visiting Profs for 1999-2000 honored at reception (11/17/99)
Gantt to speak on urban revitalization (11/10/99)
Here and There (2/28/96)

​Master's Thesis

An Analysis of the Low-Income Analysis Process- Soul City, North Carolina [PDF download]