Breaking Boundaries

Admission of Harvey Gantt and more African American Students at Clemson College

Harvey Gantt was an African American student living in Charleston, South Carolina. After submitting his application to Clemson, Gantt contacted the college inquiring why it was taking so long for him to hear back about his application. The college responded by letting him know that there were multiple pieces of information in his application that he still needed to submit. Gantt eventually filed a claim against the college on the basis that they were discriminating against him based off of his race. The court battle lasted months but Gantt was finally granted admission to the College. The then current president of Clemson College, President Edward’s, was dead set on the admission of Harvey Gantt to be not another spectacle like what happened at Ole Miss. While going through his correspondences and letters, it appeared to me that while he was not against Gantt being admitted to the college, he was very much against anything that would tarnish Clemson’s reputation. 

For the most part, Harvey Gantt had a normal college experience. While he did not have many friends, he had mostly respectful interaction with his fellow white classmates. He did well in his classes and according to President Edwards “he stayed out of trouble.” While Harvey Gantt had many pleasant interactions with his fellow classmates, there were students, like the one mentioned in this slide, who wanted absolutely nothing to do with Gantt. A student had been quoted in a newspaper article saying, “As long as I don’t have to associate with him, sit at the same table or have any social contact with him, I’ll be fine”.

Following the admission of Harvey Gantt, slowly but surely more African American students began seeking admission to Clemson College. The second Black student to be admitted to the college was Lucinda Brawley and she was the first African American woman to be admitted to the College. Unlike Gantt, her admission did not create a spectacle and she did not want any attention or publicity. 

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