Under the Dome

Harvey Gantt

Office District Status
Charlotte Mayor Retired
Party In Office Since Term Ends
Democrat 1983 1987
Level of Government  
Local Government  
Date of Birth Birthplace Now Lives In
January 14, 1943 Charleston, SC Charlotte, NC


Harvey Gantt tried twice to beat U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. The first black student at Clemson University, he became an architect in Charlotte and served on the city council from 1974 to 1983. He became the city's first black mayor in 1983, serving two terms until 1987. He ran unsuccessfully against Helms in 1990 and 1996. 


Gantt's daughter, Sonja Gantt, is a television news anchor in Charlotte. 



Marital Status
Cindy (Lucinda)
Sonja Gantt, Erika Gantt Lumsden, Angela, and Adam

Harvey Bernard Gantt is the former mayor of Charlotte and a two-time Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. 

Early life and education 

Harvey Gantt was born to Wilhelmenia Gantt and Christopher Columbus Gantt, a shipyard worker, in 1943 in Charleston, S.C.

As a teenager, Gantt took part in lunch counter sit-ins and graduated from the all-black Burke High School.

Gantt attended Iowa State University from 1961-62, and after a long legal battle, was admitted to Clemson University in 1963 under a court order.

Gantt was Clemson University's first black student. Clemson's second black student, Lucinda Brawley, married him in 1964.

He graduated with honors from Clemson in 1965 with a bachelor of architecture degree.

In 1970, he earned a master's degree in city planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professional Career 

After graduating from Clemson, Gantt worked at Odell Associates in Charlotte. 

In 1971, he returned to Charlotte and co-founded the award-winning firm Gantt Huberman Architects with Jeff Huberman.

Some of the firm's projects include The Charlotte Transportation Center, Transamerica Square and First Ward Recreation Center. 

Political Career 

Gantt served on the Charlotte City council from 1974 to 1979 and was the mayor pro-tem from 1981 to 1983.

In 1983, he was elected Charlotte's first black mayor, and won re-election in 1985, serving till 1987. He was ousted by Sue Myrick, now a U.S. representative.

In 1990, Gantt defeated Mike Easley in a Democratic runoff to earn the right to face Republican incumbent Jesse Helms for his seat in the U.S. Senate.

Gantt lost the race, receiving only 47 percent of the vote, though he gained favor among some national Democrats for the attempt. Gantt ran against Helms again in 1996, this time receiving about 46 percent of the vote. 

In the 1990 race, Helms ran an ad, known as "White Hands," which claimed Gantt supported racial quotas. Gantt has blamed the ad, which received national attention, for his loss.

Some have also blamed the losses on the so-called "Queen City Curse" which has befallen every Charlotte officeholder since 1979 who has run for statewide office. 

Helms refused to debate Gantt in both campaigns.


Gantt Huberman Architects

Community Involvement:
Not specified.

Contact Info


Iowa State University
Bachelor of Architecture
Clemson University
Graduated: 1965
Masters in city planning
Massachusetts Instituate of Technology
Graduated: 1970


Not specified.


N&O Profile:

Cars View All
Find a Car
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Homes View All
Find a Home

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of Click here to register or to log in.