Harvey Gantt was the first African American student at Clemson University.
The William D. Workman Jr. Collection contains a large assortment of documents addressing Gantt’s journey to gain admittance at Clemson University. There are frequent updates from newspapers, courts, and citizens throughout the extensive process of appeals and trials. In 1963, “Clemson Enrolls Gantt Amid Peace and Order,” reported the final ruling -- that Clemson must accept all qualified African Americans. A thorough summary of the case can be found in “Full Text of Court Order for Clemson to Admit Gantt.” In addition, the Saturday Evening Post’s article, “Integration With Dignity: The inside story of how South Carolina kept the peace,” displays numerous photos and a well-written account of the first day Gantt spent on campus as an enrolled student at Clemson.
Ernest F. Hollings gave his final speech to the General Assembly on January 9, 1963, just a few weeks prior to Gantt’s first day. It seems as though Hollings helped set the peaceful tone surrounding that day, as he passed on these words:
[We must] move on for the good of South Carolina and our United States. This should be done with dignity. It must be done with law and order. It is a hurdle that brings little progress to either side. But the failure to clear it will do us irreparable harm. (Hollings Collection Box 688)
However, many people did not support the court decision, as is observed in the article, “Thurmond Raps Gantt Reversal.” Here, Strom Thurmond remarks that the decision to admit Gantt was “an act of glaring stupidity.” The essay, “Segregation and The Court: The Ten Years of Change in South Carolina,” paints a remarkable picture of Gantt's story while discussing how race relations in South Carolina had evolved and complicated during the proceeding decade.
Furthermore, this collection contains a copy of The Gamecock, the University of South Carolina's (USC) newspaper, covering the enrollment of the first two black students at USC. The newspaper includes photos from that day and articles written on both sides of the integration debate. There is also material about the first African American female at USC and an article describing that her and other black students were asked to refrain from attending football games as a safety precaution (all articles in Workman Box 47).