Education of Harvey Gantt
Duration: 26:46 STEREO TVG (Secondary audio: none)
Even after the Supreme Court decided the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, South Carolina's General Assembly passed numerous acts designed to maintain segregation in the state's schools, parks and other public facilities. In his 1959 inaugural address, newly elected Governor Fritz Hollings declared he would not integrate South Carolina schools. In fact, South Carolina held firm to its segregationist stance through 1962, despite every other state integrating at least one of its colleges and universities. When South Carolina's institutions of higher learning finally opened their doors to African Americans in 1963, they did so in a systematic, nonviolent manner. Unlike Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama, where desegregation efforts met with hostility and even bloodshed, South Carolina integrated its public colleges and universities peacefully. On January 28, 1963, a young black man from Charleston named Harvey Gantt enrolled at Clemson College, making him the first African American accepted to a white school in South Carolina. The absence of drama surrounding Gantt's enrollment the result of nearly two years of detailed preparation and planning on the part of college administrators, state politicians and business leaders made headlines at the time, but soon it faded from the public consciousness. Narrated by Tony-winning actor Phylicia Rashad, THE EDUCATION OF HARVEY GANTT tells this pivotal, yet largely forgotten, story of desegregation. Interviews with Gantt, distinguished scholars and civil rights veterans, and archival footage and reenactment illuminate the events leading up to Gantt's enrollment, the unfolding of entrance day and the impact of Clemson's integration on the state and the nation. In recounting this chapter of American civil rights history, the documentary illustrates how a determined young man, his family and his legal champions brought about permanent change.