Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

Abel Bartley

Committee Member

Vernon Burton

Committee Member

Lee Wilson


In 2017, the Clemson Board of Trustees dedicated the granite marble surrounding Thomas Green Clemson's statue near Tillman Hall as "Gantt Circle." Named after Harvey Gantt, the first Black student at the university, it was an initiative pushed by the History Task Force to contextualize the Upstate land grant school's history better. The stonework complements the historical marker near the campus building where Gantt registered for his first semester there on January 28th, 1963. However, outside of these physical landmarks, a namesake scholarship endowment, and a multicultural office that honors him and his wife, there are no free-standing buildings on Clemson's campus that bear any people of color and women's names. The college sought to avoid the violent incidents at Oxford, MS, Tuscaloosa, AL, and Athens, GA, when racial desegregation came to its school doorstep in 1963. But in remembering their pioneers, Clemson has not done such an adequate job as Ole Miss, Alabama, and Georgia have in renaming buildings and erecting statues after their first African American students. And while Clemson celebrates itself as a game-changer for being a "high seminary of learning" in South Carolina, there are graphic details about Harvey's time yet to be revealed that would say otherwise about the respectability found there. Harvey Gantt graduated from Clemson College with honors in 1965 with a bachelor's degree in architecture. Following graduation, Gantt has gone on to invest in North Carolina through as mayor of Charlotte and building structures as an architect. Considering that, I argue in this paper for Clemson University’s administration to back the idea of creating a Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center, particularly in what it would mean for minorities of the university population and immortalizing Gantt's legacy. I also shed more light on the folklore's fallacies on his peaceful time at the college in the mid-1960s.



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