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Harvey Gantt recordings and speeches available online

Video still from a campaign ad: Harvey Gantt speaking to a classroom of children

Harvey B. Gantt -- civil rights activist, groundbreaking politician, and accomplished architect/city planner -- desegregated Clemson University in 1963 and became the first African American mayor of Charlotte in 1983. In both 1990 and 1996, Gantt challenged U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, nearly unseating him. His award-winning architecture has shaped our built environment. 

Gantt’s career has been the subject of significant scholarly attention, but never before has an extensive collection of speeches, advertisements, and interviews been available for research online. Now, a new digital collection features handwritten and typed manuscripts of some of the most significant speeches of his early political career as well as recordings from the 1996 U.S. Senate race. In the coming year, we plan to add recordings from the 1990 campaign. You can access the online collection at You can also view a video highlighting recordings in the collection.

As the official repository for the mayoral records of the City of Charlotte, the Library took custody of the Gantt mayoral papers in 1988. In 2016, Gantt donated audio and visual recordings from his 1996 Senate campaign, and in 2018 we received a grant to preserve these recordings from the Council on Library and Information Resources Recordings at Risk grant program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2018, he donated a selection of his writings and the 1990 campaign recordings, and last year his press secretary for the 1990 campaign, Susan Jetton, donated records related to that race.

Not all materials are online, but all are available for research and study in the Dalton Special Collections Reading Room on the 10th floor of the Library. You can find guides to the Gantt collections at

Image: MS0543, Harvey Gantt Papers, Gantt for Senate Advertisements, Lights Up, copy 2, 1996. (Still captured from video).

- Dawn Schmitz