Harvey Gantt and the
Desegregation of Clemson University
an exhibit presented by the Library
in conjunction with
"Integration With Dignity: A Celebration of 40 Years" on
January 28, 2003
Clemson College in the early
As the 1960s began, Clemson College
enrolled approximately 3,900 white male students and approximately 100 white
female students. Eighty percent were from South Carolina, and ninety-four
percent were from the South. Annual tuition, including room and board, was
$882 for in-state students and $1082 for out-of-state students [1960-61].
Students could choose from
twenty-nine majors in the Schools of Agriculture, Architecture, Arts and
Sciences, Engineering, and Textiles. All unmarried, male students under age
21 were required to complete two years of basic ROTC (Reserve Officers' Training
Single male students lived in six
dormitories (Johnstone Hall and the five dormitories that comprise the current
fraternity housing), with two more under construction. There were three
housing projects for married students. No dormitories were provided for
women, although one was under construction. Freshmen were not allowed to have
cars on campus.
The YMCA (Holtzendorff) and the new
Student Center (Johnstone) were the centers of extra-curricular life. There were
no socialfraternities or sororities. Dances, concerts and intramural sports
were popular campus activities. Intercollegiate athletics attracted large
crowds. Memorial Stadium could seat 44,000 football fans.
The Library (the current Sikes
Hall) desperately needed more space as enrollment increased each year. The
newest buildings included Earle Hall, the School of Architecture Building
(Lee), the Robert Franklin Poole Agricultural Center and the Physics Building
Local black residents worked for
the College from its earliest days, but were mostly limited to jobs as
custodians, outdoor laborers and cafeteria workers. Black entertainers were
hired for college dances by the 1950s. But, there were no black students,
faculty or administrators before 1963.
In 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court
ruled in the case Plessy v. Ferguson that racial segregation was allowed
as long as equal facilities were provided for both races. Although Plessy
v. Ferguson involved only passenger accommodations on a railroad, the
principle of "separate but equal" was applied to all aspects of public life.
By 1914, every Southern state had passed laws creating separate facilities
for blacks, including schools, restaurants, streetcars, health-care institutions
and cemeteries. This artificial structure was maintained by denying black
people the right to vote.
Gradual changes by the 1940s
started the country on the long path toward ending "separate but equal." Large
numbers of blacks moving west and north during World War II brought the issue
to national attention. And black soldiers and sailors who returned
from fighting for their country against injustice overseas were less tolerant
of inequality at home.
Many white leaders continued to
fight desegregation at all costs, although some attempts were made to forestall
arguments that equal facilities were not provided. In South Carolina higher
education, the state maintained a separate law school at South Carolina State
College beginning in 1945. The South Carolina Area Trade School was founded in
1947. And the South Carolina Regional Education Board paid the difference
between in-state and out-of-state fees for black students to attend colleges in
other states if their field of interest was not available at South Carolina
Brown v Board of Education,
1954 overrules "Separate But Equal"
On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court
decided the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
Linda Brown was denied admission to an elementary school in Topeka because
she was black. Her case was brought together with cases from South Carolina,
Virginia, and Delaware which involved the same basic question: Does the equal
protection clause of the 14th Amendment prohibit racial segregation in the
public schools? In a unanimous opinion delivered by Chief Justice Earl
Warren, the Supreme Court declared that "separate education facilities are
Many white southerners, from
politicians to business leaders to ordinary citizens, criticized the Supreme
Court and refused to abide by the Brown decision. The 1956 session of
the South Carolina General Assembly was called the "Segregation Session"
because so many acts passed by the legislature were designed to prevent
desegregating schools, parks and other facilities.
White Citizens' Councils and other
groups that pledged to preserve white supremacy sprang up in many states,
Carolina. Threats, intimidation and violence were used
against blacks, as well as whites, who supported the Brown decision. In response, there was an increase in peaceful public protests, including
sit-in demonstrations and economic boycotts, as well legal action to bring
about integration. By 1963, every state except South Carolina had integrated at
least one of its colleges or universities.
The earliest known black applicant
to Clemson College was Spencer Bracey, a student at South Carolina A&M
College in 1948. Neither he nor 1956 applicant John L. Gainey, a soldier,
Cornelius T. Fludd graduated with
Harvey Gantt from Burke High School in Charleston. He enrolled at Morehouse
College in Atlanta and later joined Gantt at Iowa State. Fludd also wanted to
transfer to Clemson and completed the same stages in the application process
through the Spring of 1962. At that time, he decided not to continue his efforts
to attend Clemson. Fludd currently is an assistant athletic director at the
University of Texas.
Harvey B. Gantt
Harvey B. Gantt was born in 1943 in
Charleston where he grew up with four younger sisters. His father, Christopher
Gantt, worked several jobs to support his family and also was a member of the
NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Harvey
Gantt was eleven years old when the Brown v. Board of Education ruling
was made. He began to take an interest in the issues of race about that time,
later becoming part of the NAACP Youth Council and participating in at least one
sit-in protest in Charleston.
Gantt graduated from Burke High
School in 1960. He was interested in studying architecture and during his senior
year of high school
asked for application materials from Clemson, the only
architecture school in South Carolina. But Clemson did not admit black
students in 1960, so Gantt enrolled at Iowa State University. The South
Carolina Regional Education Board paid $149.51 per quarter (the
cost between in-state and out-of-state enrollment) for him to study architecture
at Iowa State University instead of at
"Will you please send me a
bulletin for the 1960-61 school year. I should like the bulletin to include the
different curriculums and the cost of attending Clemson for one year. Also I
am asking that you send me some applications for admission next
the fall of '61."
-- Harvey Gantt to Registrar's Office, November 2,
The Registrar's office staff
eventually sent Gantt a catalog and application card which he returned in
December 1960. Clemson officials realized Gantt was black from the race
question on the card.
"Your application for
entrance in September, 1961 has been received. On inquiry, we find that the
South Carolina Regional Education Board is paying, and expects to continue
to pay provided you qualify, the difference in cost between in-state
out-of-state enrollment. In view of the above and your satisfactory
progress at Iowa State University, we are returning your application."
-- Registrar's Office to Harvey Gantt, January 23, 1961
Gantt repeated his desire to attend
Clemson and returned his application to be considered for enrollment in the Fall
Harvey Gantt's application was put
in the "incomplete" file and eventually he was advised that it was too late for
him to be considered for the 1961 Fall semester. Gantt applied for admission
again in December 1961, asking to be admitted either for the 1962 Spring
semester or 1962 Fall semester.
In June 1962, Harvey Gantt traveled
to Clemson and talked with Clemson Registrar Kenneth Vickery. He was told the
college was waiting for his transcripts from Iowa State University. On July
2, he was advised that he needed to submit a portfolio of his work
in architecture before his application could be reviewed.
"The plaintiff has not been
granted admission to Clemson College although he is fully qualified for such
admission and has met all requirements for such admission and although white
students who applied after plaintiff applied and whose academic records are
inferior to those of the plaintiff have been admitted. The admission of the
plaintiff has been denied by the registrar of Clemson College solely because
of the race and color of the plaintiff and pursuant to the policy,
practice, custom and usage of limiting admission to Clemson College to white
- Complaint, Harvey Gantt v. Clemson Agricultural
College of South Carolina, July 7, 1962
On July 7, 1962 Harvey Gantt filed
a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of South Carolina,
Anderson Division. The lawsuit was filed on his behalf by his father,
Christopher Gantt, because Harvey Gantt was a minor. Gantt's lead attorney was
Matthew Perry of Columbia. He also was represented by several NAACP
attorneys from Greenville and New York, including Constance Baker Motley who
represented James Meredith in his legal action against the University of
On July 9, 1962 a summons to be
answered within twenty days, a complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction
was served to President R.C. Edwards and Registrar Kenneth Vickery. Within
the week similar papers were served to each member of the Board of Trustees
and State Superintendent of Education J. T. Anderson.
On September 6, 1962, C. C. Wyche,
U.S. District Judge for the Western District in South Carolina, denied the
motion for preliminary injunction. The decision was appealed and heard in
the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Alexandria, Virginia on
September 25 and October 4, 1962. On October 5, 1962, the Fourth Circuit Court
of Appeals denied the request for a temporary injunction and expressed its
desire that the case be heard on its merits by the District Court as soon as
Matthew Perry was born
in Columbia in 1921. After serving in the Army from 1942 to 1946, he completed
his B.S. degree in 1948 and his law degree in 1951 at South Carolina State
College. As a young civil rights lawyer, Perry was instrumental in achieving
many successes for blacks. He was an attorney with the Columbia firm of Jenkins,
Perry and Pride and also legal counsel in South Carolina for the NAACP.
Perry tried cases that
led to the integration of beaches, parks, restaurants, and public schools and
his trial work led to the release of some 7,000 people arrested for sit-in
protests. Harvey Gantt first met Matthew Perry when Perry gave a speech at
Gantt's church in 1958.
Robert C. Edwards
graduated from Clemson in 1933 with a degree in textile engineering. He served
in the army during World War II and worked at Deering-Milliken. In 1956,
Edwards began working at Clemson as vice president for development, a new
position in which he supervised fundraising and public and alumni relations.
When President Poole
died in June 1958, R.C. Edwards was named acting president. In April 1959 he was
the unanimous choice to be Clemson's president.
Kenneth N. Vickery
graduated from Clemson in 1938 and began working as assistant to the Registrar.
He returned to Clemson after serving for 4 ½ years in the Army during World
War II. Vickery became Director of Admissions in 1949, Registrar in 1955 and
Director of Admissions and Registration in 1961.
On September 10, 1962, a federal
court ordered the University of Mississippi to accept James Meredith, a
twenty-eight-year-old Air Force veteran, as the school's first black
student. Governor Ross Barnett vowed he would never allow the school to be
integrated and personally blocked Meredith's enrollment. He was supported by
hundreds of state policemen, sheriffs, residents and students.
To protect Meredith, U.S. Attorney
General Robert Kennedy sent 123 deputy federal marshals, 316 U.S. border guards
and 97 federal prison guards. They were attacked with guns, bricks and
bottles. As violence escalated in late September, President John F. Kennedy
sent more than 16,000 federal troops. Two people were killed, twenty-eight
marshals were shot and 160 people were injured. Meredith finally enrolled on
October 1, 1962. Federal troops remained on campus to protect him until he
graduated in 1963.
The situation in Mississippi had a
tremendous impact on Clemson and its supporters. Many people who opposed
integrating the school more strongly opposed the violence and destruction
that took place in Mississippi.
Behind the Scenes
In early 1961, R.C. Edwards
discussed with John Cauthen whether state leaders would support a policy of law
and order if the courts ordered Harvey Gantt to be admitted to Clemson.
Cauthen began lining up support among business and political leaders for a
non-violent course of action. They were joined, informally, by Charles Daniel,
Edgar Brown, Ernest Hollings and Wayne Freeman. Freeman was editor of the
Greenville News and a member of the Gressette Committee that dealt with the
state's racial issues.
In July 1961, Charles Daniel made a
speech at the annual Watermelon Festival in Hampton County saying that the state
needed to deal openly with desegregation in a manner that would benefit all
citizens of the state. The general public was much harder to convince,
however. In early 1962, Governor Hollings told newspaper editors to begin
preparing their readers for the "inevitable" - a black student being admitted
to a previously all-white college. Newspapers began to cover the Gantt case in
detail. And the public began to take notice.
Charles Daniel, a
graduate of The Citadel and veteran of World War I, founded Daniel Construction
Company in 1935. Eventually, Daniel International became one of the largest
construction companies in the world. His company also built many of the
buildings on Clemson's campus.
Daniel was a prominent
business leader and served on the board of many national corporations and
organizations. He was instrumental in getting many businesses and industries
to build in South Carolina. In 1954, Daniel was appointed by Governor James
F. Byrnes to fill an unexpired U. S. Senate term. He also served as a life
member of the Clemson College Board of Trustees from 1949 to
John K. Cauthen, from
North Augusta, South Carolina, wrote for newspapers in Charleston and Columbia
before becoming the state's first radio commentator for Columbia's station
WIS in the late 1930s. He continued to work for the state in public affairs
positions. In the 1940s, Cauthen served as executive secretary to two
governors and later wrote speeches for several more. He also was a skilled
From 1945 to 1971,
Cauthen was executive vice president of the South Carolina Textile Manufacturers
Association. He worked with Charles Daniel and textile leaders to create an
economic development policy that made the state an attractive place for
Edgar A. Brown worked
as a law clerk and court stenographer before passing the bar exam when he was
twenty-one. He was Chairman of the state Democratic Party and served on
executive committees on county, state and national levels. Brown was a state
representative from 1921 to 1926, including one year as Speaker of the House. He
was elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1928 and served until 1972,
becoming one of the state's most powerful leaders. From 1942 to 1971 he was
President Pro Tempore and Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Brown also served as
an appointed member of the Clemson Board of Trustees from 1934 to 1946 and as a
life trustee from 1948 to 1975. He received an honorary degree from Clemson
A native of
Charleston, Fritz Hollings graduated from The Citadel in 1942. He served as an
officer in World War II before graduating from the University of South
Carolina School of Law in 1947. The following year, at age 26, he began his long
career of public service when he was elected to the South Carolina House of
Representatives. In his second term, Holling's peers voted him Speaker Pro
Tempore, a post to which he was re-elected in 1953. Two years later, he became
In 1958, at age 36,
Hollings became the youngest man in the 20th century to be elected Governor of
South Carolina. As Governor, Hollings stressed economic growth and
development and developed the state's system of technical colleges. Donald S.
Russell succeeded Hollings as governor of South Carolina in mid-January
Harvey Gantt v. The Clemson
Agricultural College of South Carolina was heard by Judge C.C. Wyche in
Anderson, South Carolina, November 19 - 21, 1962. Clemson's defense was
based on two points:
"We contend that Harvey Gantt
has never completed an application for admission to Clemson and that he has not
been denied admission."
"We contend that his application
has been processed and treated in every other way in precisely the same manner
as have all other applicants similarly situated without regard to
On December 22, 1962 Judge Wyche
again ruled that Gantt's entrance to Clemson should be denied, stating that he
failed to complete application requirements. He also ruled that the
college's actions in the Gantt case were not based on race.
The case was appealed to the Fourth
Circuit Court. On January 16, 1963 the Fourth Circuit Court reversed the
lower court decision and ordered Gantt admitted to Clemson for the Spring
semester which would begin on January 28, 1963. Clemson then asked
the Fourth Circuit Court, and then the U.S. Supreme Court, for a stay of the
enforcement of the decision. Both requests were denied.
On January 22, 1963, in compliance
with the ruling of the Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit Court, Judge Wyche
issued the order that Harvey Gantt be admitted to Clemson
After the ruling, several members
of the state legislature debated closing Clemson to prevent Gantt from
enrolling. But, few others supported that course of action. President R. C.
Edwards, John Cauthen and their small group of associates had continued to
plan for the peaceful integration of Clemson College whenever it was to take
place. Rather than waiting for reactions to a legal ruling, they had lined
up supporters in advance.
On January 24th, Governor Russell,
State Senator Marion Gressette and President Edwards all held press conferences
asking that there be no violence or disruption. Gressette was head of the
Gressette Committee, also known as the School Segregation Committee because
it dealt with all the state's racial issues. His participation was significant
in sending a message that there would be no support for blocking Gantt's
"I feel that I have the
confidence of the student body in saying that the students at Clemson will react
with the traditional maturity of Clemson men and that there will be no
violence connected with the admittance of Harvey Gantt."
student body president Bill Hendrix, c January 17, 1963
"An overwhelming majority of the
major business, industrial and professional interests of the state strongly
approve the announced determination of the board of trustees and the
administration of Clemson College to maintain law and order at all times,
thereby guaranteeing that control of the institution will remain, without
interruption, under the direction of constituted authorities of the state of
South Carolina. Not only must we insure law and order at Clemson College, but we
must preserve and project the good name of South Carolina - demonstrating to
the rest of the nation and the world that our dedication to the established and
prevailing American way of life is consistent and enduring."
statement released c January 20, 1963 by the South Carolina State Chamber of
Commerce, South Carolina Textile Manufacturers Association, South Carolina
Bankers Association and South Carolina Broadcasters Association.
Religious leaders of the state
issued a similar statement.
"If the ultimate decision of the
Federal courts directs that Harvey Gantt should be admitted, my position is that
the board of trustees
and the administration at Clemson College will not
tolerate violence on the Clemson campus."
-- State Senator and Clemson
Board of Trustees member Edgar Brown, late December 1962
"However distasteful these
federal decisions may be to us and whatever may be our opinion as to the justice
of such decisions, we shall meet and solve this problem peaceably, without
violence, without disorder, and with proper regard for the good name of our
State and her people."
- Governor Donald Russell, January 24,
"We have all argued that the
Supreme Court decision of 1954 is not the law of the land. But everyone must
agree that it is the fact of the land… If and when every legal remedy has
been exhausted, this General Assembly must make clear South
Carolina's choice, a government of laws rather than a government of men."
-- Governor Ernest F. Hollings, Farewell Address to the South Carolina
General Assembly, January 1963
In October 1962, Governor
Hollings sent J. P. Strom, the chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement
Division (SLED), to Oxford, Mississippi to study the situation and use the
information to work out a detailed security plan for Clemson. The plan was used
on January 28th. More than 100 policemen, highway patrolmen and SLED
officers were assigned to campus. They set up ten checkpoints to review
identification cards of everyone arriving on campus. The SLED plane was
available for aerial patrol if needed. Governor Donald Russell refused an
offer for federal troops from U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Students were issued identification
cards to carry at all times. They were told: "Your only reason for being at
Clemson is for the purpose of obtaining an education. You are expected to
continue to carry out the duties of a mature student as you pursue this
objective. . . . Lawlessness and disorder will no more be tolerated on the
Clemson campus in the future than it has been in the past. Please do not let
idle curiosity allow you to become involved in a situation in which you have no
connection or responsibility."
Joe Sherman was raised
in Clemson and graduated from the College in 1934. He took over full-time the
college news bureau he had started as a student. Sherman did both general
college publicity and sports publicity for Clemson until 1947. Then he went
to work at the University of Florida and later as an editor with the National
Collegiate Athletic Bureau of the NCAA. He returned to Clemson as director
of public and alumni relations in 1956 and began Tigerama later that
Walter T. Cox
graduated from Clemson in 1939 and began working the next year as assistant
football coach, baseball coach and athletic business manager. In 1950, he
became director of public relations and alumni affairs and assistant to the
president. In 1955, Cox was named vice president for student
January 28, 1963
Only new and transfer students
reported to Clemson on Monday, January 28th. Classes didn't begin until Friday.
Harvey Gantt left Charleston early in the morning and arrived at Clemson
around 1 pm with his attorney, Matthew Perry. He first went to Tillman Hall
where he enrolled in the Registrar's Office and then spoke outside to the
gathered media. Next Gantt went to the School of Architecture (Lee Hall)
where he met with Dean Harlan McClure. He met briefly with President Edwards and
then went to his room, Room 502 in Dormitory B (Johnstone Hall). He wasn't
assigned a roommate.
The press followed Gantt to each
location. Over a hundred students followed the crowd at first, usually laughing
and joking. Most eventually lost interest.
Harvey Gantt attended orientation
sessions on January 29, signed up for classes on January 30 and then had a day
off before classes began on February 1.
More than 150 members of the press
from around the country -- including three black reporters -- arrived in Clemson
to cover Harvey Gantt's admission. The Clemson House was set up as their
headquarters, with additional telephones and teletype machines. For security
reasons, all newsmen had to show press credentials and to register to be on
President Edwards held two press
conferences and Joe Sherman held one. They issued a list of rules that
reporters were to follow. The peaceful enrollment of Harvey Gantt, the first
black student to attend a formerly all-white school in South Carolina, was
reported all over the world.
Harvey Gantt was followed around by
plainclothes officers acting as bodyguards for several months. But, he
experienced little trouble. In September 1963, Lucinda Brawley became the
second black student, and the first black woman, to enroll at Clemson. She
and Gantt were married in 1964.
More about Harvey
Harvey Gantt was selected for the
Minarets, Clemson's local architectural honor society and for Tau Sigma Delta,
the national architectural honor society. He graduated from Clemson in 1965.
The University of South Carolina
admitted its first black students in the Fall of 1963. By 1965, all of the
state's public colleges and twelve of twenty-five private colleges were
admitting qualified students without regard to race.
Harvey Gantt worked for an
architectural firm in Charlotte after graduating from Clemson. He received a
master's degree in City Planning from MIT in 1970 and formed the Charlotte
architectural firm of Gantt, Huberman and Associates.
In 1974, Gantt was elected to the
first of three terms on the Charlotte City Council. In 1983, he became
Charlotte's first black mayor, serving two terms. In 1990 and 1996 Gantt ran
for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jesse Helms. In 1995 President Bill Clinton
appointed him chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, where he
served until 2000.
Harvey Gantt has continued to guest
lecture at Clemson through the years. In 1988 the University launched the Harvey
B. Gantt Scholarship Endowment to fund scholarships for black students at
Clemson. And in 2000, the multicultural affairs office suite in the Hendrix
Student Center was named for Harvey and Lucinda Gantt.
Harvey Gantt speaks at
"Integration With Dignity: A Celebration of 40 Years" on January 28,
The marker is