When Harvey was a junior at Burke High School, he joined the NAACP Youth, and then in February, 1960, the “sit-in” protests began, with which the NAACP became heavily involved. These “sit-ins” became viral with younger people, and was an effective means of protest.
In the spring of 1960, when Harvey Gantt was just about to graduate high school, he wanted to study at Clemson University’s newly formed school of architecture. Unfortunately, with a shortage of money, on top of S.C. state laws, Harvey could not attend Clemson, and he ended up in Iowa State University for about a year. Harvey would try applying to Clemson, starting in January 1961, but the university kept denying his application. On July 7, 1962, Matthew Perry would file a lawsuit, but since Harvey was a minor, Harvey’s father Christopher acted as the plaintiff. With growing tensions rising in Mississippi, South Carolina lawmakers wanted to take a different approach, in order to maintain peace throughout the state. A day after Governor Donald Russell was elected in South Carolina, the Federal Court of Appeals declared that Clemson College must admit Harvey Gantt.
Harvey Gantt had won his case, and was on his way to Clemson College.