Voices Against Indifference Initiative

The Jeffrey Sachs Project: Environment, Poverty and Healthcare on a Global Scale

September 2002 – April 2003

Biography of Harvey B. Gantt

Harvey Gantt was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He went to the public schools of that city and graduated from Burke High School second in his class. He moved to the Midwest on a merit scholarship, attending Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. from 1960-1962.  In late 1961, he applied to Clemson University, and was admitted in January 1963 under court order and became the first black student to attend a previously all white school in South Carolina. He graduated from Clemson with honors and a Bachelor of Architecture Degree in 1965. He moved to Charlotte after graduation to join the firm of Odell and Associates. Five years later, in 1970, he received a Master of City Planning Degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1971, Gantt returned to Charlotte to open Gantt Huberman Architects, an architectural firm he co-founded with Jeff Huberman. The firm has grown over the years to become a sucessful, award-winning design organization.

Harvey Gantt is a member of the American Institute of Architects and the National, Organization of Minority Architects. The American Institute of Architects paid due recognition to Harvey Gantt in 1987 by making him a Fellow in the Institute. Gantt has served on the NC Board of Architecture, the AIA National Minority Services Committee, juror on numerous design awards programs and member of accreditation committees at Howard University and Southern University Schools of Architecture. Gantt has been a lecturer and visiting critic at colleges and universities nationwide, including Hampton, Yale, Cornell, UNC-Chapel Hill, Michigan, MIT, Mississippi State, Tuskegee, A&T, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and others.

More recently, Harvey Gantt has devoted a substantial amount of time speaking to other architects nationally. His primary focus has been to make the case that the growing problems of the urban areas of our country demand a more activist role for architects in shaping public policy. He was chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, appointed by President Bill Clinton, from the year 1995 to the year 2000.

Harvey Gantt himself has been an activist in the political arena since 1974. He served more than three terms on the Charlotte City Council in the late 70’s. In 1981 he was made Mayor Pro-Tem. In 1983, he became Charlotte’s first African-American Mayor and went on to serve two successive terms in this city of better than 400,000 persons.

Gantt’s tenure in Charlotte politics was one of unprecedented growth and development. He placed a great deal of emphasis on planning, revitalization of the inner city, housing and managed growth.

In 1990 and 1996 Harvey Gantt ran for national office and challenged Jesse Helms in the North Carolina U.S. Senate race. While unsuccessful in winning the senate seat, he has won national acclaim and respect positions he took on education, health care, the environment, and his vision for improving quality of life for all citizens.

In his community, he has been active in his church, Friendship Missionary Baptist, where he is a member of the choir. He has been a member of numerous civic and cultural organizations in Charlotte and currently serves on the boards of Crisis Assistance Ministry, the Foundation for the Carolinas, Central Piedmont Community College Foundation, and Charlotte Center City Partners. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of NUCOR corporation.

Mr. Gantt’s honors and awards are too numerous to list in their entirety. Suffice it to say he has received recognition from civic, cultural and service organizations – including the NAACP, Chamber of Commerce, The National Conference for Community & Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union. He holds honorary doctorate degrees from eight colleges and universities.

Harvey Gantt is married to the former Lucinda Brawley. They have four adult children.