Burke High grad Harvey Gantt gets a moment on stage
CHARLOTTE — Burke High School graduate Harvey Gantt spoke to the nation tonight at the Democratic National Convention, another honor for the Charlestonian and hero of desegregation at Clemson University.
Gantt, a social and political trailblazer who also was the first black mayor of Charlotte, introduced a video tribute of recently deceased Democratic Party stalwarts.
It was a brief appearance, a day later than originally scheduled, but it underscored Gantt’s role as a pioneer who broke down racial barriers, something President Barack Obama did decades later.
Gantt, 69, the first black student admitted to Clemson, said he was shaped largely by family dinnertime conversations at his childhood home in downtown Charleston.
One of the most notable chats occurred on May 17, 1954, when the family read The Evening Post’s report that the U.S. Supreme Court had outlawed segregation in its Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.
“I had no idea that I would be a pioneer,” he said. “We were just talking generally about what would happen to black people as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision and, believe me, that had a certain amount of excitement for me, my classmates, for African-Americans all over the community.”
Gantt went on to become a successful architect. He designed several buildings in Charleston, including the new Burke High School, Sanders Clyde Elementary School and the International Longshoremen’s Association Hall.
Principal Maurice Cannon said he is glad to see an alumnus getting the national stage.
“It is significant, an alumnus of Burke High School having an opportunity to address the nation,” Cannon said. “Considering Harvey Gantt was a trailblazer for seeking equality and educational rights for all citizens of the United States of America, now for him to be able to stand and address our great nation, we are proud that there is that tie to Burke High School,” Cannon said.
Read more later at postandcourier.com and in tomorrow’s newspaper.