Harvey B. Gantt (born January 14, 1943 in Charleston, South Carolina) fused a love of urban planning with the policy decisions of an elected official. Beginning his career, Gantt was forced to take legal action in order to study architecture in the state of his birth. In 1963, Gantt won the lawsuit and became the first African-American student at Clemson University. With a Bachelor"s Degree from Clemson in 1965, Gantt went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to earn a Master of City Planning degree in 1970. He moved to North Carolina to begin his dual career as architect and politician. From 1970 to 1971, Gantt developed plans for Soul City (including Soul Tech I), a multi-cultural mixed-use planned community. The project :was the brainchild of Civil Rights leader Floyd B. McKissick (1922-1991). Gantt"s political life also began in North Carolina, moving from a member of the City Council (1974-1979) to becoming the first African-American Mayor of Charlotte (1983-1987).
Gantt has inspired generations of minority students and politicians, including a young law student named Barack Obama. From building the City of Charlotte, NC to becoming Mayor of that same city, Gantt"s life has been filled with victories in architecture and in Democratic politics.
Robert Robinson Taylor (born June 8, 1868, Wilmington, North Carolina) is widely considered the first academically trained and credentialed African-American architect in America. Growing up in North Carolina, Taylor worked as a carpenter and foreman for his prosperous father, Henry Taylor, the son of a white slaveholder and a Black mother. Educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, 1888-1892), Taylor"s final project for a Bachelor"s Degree in Architecture was Design for a Soldiers" Home, housing to accommodate aging Civil War veterans. Booker T. Washington recruited Taylor to help establish Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, a campus forever associated with the architecture of Robert Robinson Taylor. In 2015 the