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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Harvey B. Gantt, January 6, 1986. Interview C-0008. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Little difficulty for Gantt at Clemson

Gantt had a relatively uneventful tenure at Clemson, despite being the first black student admitted there. He did, however, have a feeling that he was under scrutiny from campus security guards, who "came out of the woodwork" when his friend and he staged a fight. His nonchalant attitude is belied by the fact that he made sure not to study by open windows.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Harvey B. Gantt, January 6, 1986. Interview C-0008. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Tell me about the basketball bounced on the floor above your room.
I think too much has been made of that. I don't recall any … Somebody developed that story and they've attributed it to me that people were rude and they bounced basketballs all night long and I never could go to sleep. That's really not true. I don't know where that came from. During the entire time that I was at Clemson, I had about three epithets hurled at me, and they were all done by someone who was on the fourth floor of some dorm, it was a Friday afternoon, he was probably drunk as hell, and he'd say something like "nigger this" and hide. I used to tell people maybe it was my size that kept people from coming up to me and doing some of the things that I'd heard had happened to other pioneers in situations like that, like being spat upon, being physically abused in some kind of way. That really just never happened. I've seen stories that attributed the basketball bouncing, I've heard Clemson students say that that occurred. Those were concrete floors and you would have to bounce a basketball pretty hard for me to have heard it. I made a habit of not sitting in front of an open window, little precautions I took to avoid the fate of some crazy person with a shotgun who might want to do something. But generally, I felt quite able to move about the campus quite freely. They had some guards who were rather unobtrusive and there was once that we played a game with a kid that I got to know in the architecture school. We were coming from class one day and we were fooling around, we lived in the same dorm, and we faked a fight, you know, we were just trying to see how much of the security that was still there. They came out of the woodwork. But other than that…