The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has selected Harvey B. Gantt, FAIA, as the 2013 recipient of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award.

Established in 1972, the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award honors architects and organizations that champion a range of social issues, including affordable housing, minority inclusion and access for persons with disabilities. Gantt is being recognized for his efforts as a noted civil rights pioneer, public servant and award-winning architect.

In 1963, after a protracted court case, Gantt entered Clemson University as its first African-American student. He earned his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Clemson in 1965, graduating third in his class. In 1983, After service on the City Council, Gantt was elected Charlotte’s mayor, the first African-American to hold that position.

Gantt was also active in statewide Democratic Party politics, becoming the party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1990 and 1996 against the outspoken conservative Sen. Jesse Helms. Although he lost both races, he remained committed to public service.

“Harvey’s run for statewide office helped set the course for young African-American leaders who wanted to become more
engaged in the political process,” President Obama told the Charlotte Observer in 2012. “His decision to enter the race showed great courage and a strong commitment.”

At Clemson University’s convocation in 2012, Gantt said that as an elected official, “I saw firsthand the importance of solving problems and building a stronger community by engaging as much diversity as possible, to find that elusive common ground needed to move the needle and to bring about progress.” Gantt added, “It’s the story of my life.”

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