In the 1950's and early 1960's, Southern states fought against desegregation, and the last state to comply was South Carolina. In 1963, Harvey Gantt was able to peacefully integrate Clemson College, though his success was not without challenges. This is his story.
Harvey Gantt grew up in the segregated South, a period where schools, and many other government and public buildings were “separate but equal.” Harvey was born in Charleston, and his father worked in the Charleston ship yard, providing a comfortable life for the family. While Christopher and Wilhelmina Gantt protected their children from the full impact of the Jim Crow society, they were well aware that changes needed to be made. The South Carolina NAACP won many civil rights battles, and when a petition for equal educational advantages was denied, this resulted in the lawsuit known as “Briggs vs Elliot,” led by Charleston attorney Thurgood Marshall. “Briggs vs Elliot” became part of the famous “Brown vs Board of Education,” which declared segregation of public schools as unconstitutional. While some state leaders and business people attempted to circumvent the Supreme Court ruling, the NAACP remained vigilant in its fight for state leaders to fall in line with the federal ruling.