September 2014

Desegregation of Clemson University and USC

During his senior year of high school, Harvey B. Gantt requested application materials from Clemson, the only state institution offering an architecture curriculum. Because Clemson was segregated, Gantt enrolled at another institution. The state of South Carolina paid $149.51 per quarter (the cost difference between residential and out-of-state enrollment) for him to attend Iowa State. Gantt resubmitted his application to Clemson for the fall semester of 1961.

The University filed his application as “incomplete” and told him it was too late for him to be considered. He reapplied in December 1961. On July 7, 1962, Gantt’s lead attorney, Matthew Perry (of Columbia), filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court (Western District of South Carolina, Anderson Division). The case was appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court. On January 16, 1963, the Court reversed the lower court decision and ordered Gantt’s admission for the spring semester.

In May 1962, Henrie Monteith applied to the University of South Carolina, but was denied. Matthew Perry, her legal representative, filed suit against USC in October 1962, on her behalf. On July 10, 1963, Judge J. Robert Martin of Greenville denied USC’s appeal and ordered the University to admit Montieth for the fall semester. On July 25, Robert G. Anderson of Greenville, a transfer student from Clark Atlanta University, and James L. Solomon, Jr., a graduate student from Sumter, also applied for admission. On the morning of September 11, 1963, accompanied by their attorneys, Monteith, Anderson and Solomon desegregated the last segregated flagship southern state university.

Harvey B. Gantt leaves the Clemson University Registrar’s Office (near left photo). Robert Anderson, Henrie Monteith and James Solomon (L-R), integrated the University of South Carolina (far right photo).

Photos courtesy of Clemson University and University of South Carolina archives