Dear Faculty, Staff, Alumni and Friends,
February is Black History Month, and a good opportunity for us to reflect on what we in CAAH have been and are doing to address the continuing challenges we face as we attempt to come together and realize the promise and the vision set forth in our nation’s founding documents.
There was no greater opportunity to do so than just one week before February, when we marked the 50th anniversary of Harvey Gantt’s arrival on campus in January 1963 to register as a student and commence his studies in architecture at Clemson. Gantt was the first Black student to graduate from Clemson.
To mark the occasion, Lee Gallery hosted an exhibition titled “Legacy: Celebrating the Impact of Harvey Gantt” to re-tell the story of the surrounding Harvey Gantt’s life and the events that changed South Carolina, Clemson and our community. The exhibit showcased research conducted by current Clemson students and photographs taken by Cecil Williams as a backdrop to work created by individuals affiliated with Clemson University.
That same weekend, the Bellamy Theater at the Brooks Center was the site for the first run-through of a dramatic adaptation of Rhondda Thomas’s pioneering 2020 book, “Call My Name, Clemson: Documenting the Black Experience in an American University Community.” The play is still in development, so audiences got a sneak peek into coming attractions. One of the sections of the drama traces Harvey Gantt’s long and arduous journey to acceptance, a process that took many years and much persistence and courage on his part. It turns out that coming to Clemson to study architecture was an aspiration of his already articulated when he was a high school student in Charleston, years before it became a reality.
And this past Sunday, February 19, the Call My Name initiative sponsored its first annual Call My Name 5K Run. The course ran past sites of significance to Black history at Clemson University and paid homage to Black people who have contributed to Clemson’s development and success. Proceeds will financially support the Call My Name project’s ongoing research and community initiatives.
Our celebrations and remembrances this month not only revealed the rich history of Clemson but also reflected the beautiful synergies of our College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. Harvey Gantt was a student of architecture. The exhibition about his legacy was displayed at the Lee Gallery, which is an initiative of our Department of Art. The Call My Name project, which also situates Gantt’s effort and accomplishment in a much longer historical narrative, is the brainchild of a professor of English. And that project has, in turn, been brought into three-dimensional life on the stage of the Brooks Center, the home of our Department of Performing Arts. What a perfect example of how the distinct branches of this College come together to give meaning to our lives and to make our world a better place.
Nicholas Vazsonyi, Dean
College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities
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