This discussion with Harvey Gantt and Eva Clayton is presented by the Department of Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Gantt is a noted civil rights pioneer, public servant and award-winning architect. The first African-American student to be admitted to Clemson University after attending Iowa State University, Gantt graduated with honors in architecture, earned a master’s degree at MIT and established a practice in Charlotte with a partner. Gantt entered local politics, where he was elected to the city council, serving from 1974 to 1983. He was elected to two terms as the first black mayor of Charlotte from 1983 to 1987. In the 1990s, he ran twice for the United States Senate.
On taking her seat in the United States House of Representatives following a special election in 1992, Clayton became the first African American to represent North Carolina in the House since George Henry White was elected to his second and last term in 1898. She was re-elected and served for five terms. In 2003, Clayton was appointed assistant director-general of the United Nations’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), based in Rome, Italy. She served in that capacity for three years, in which she was responsible for encouraging the establishment of global alliances and partnerships to fight hunger and poverty in 24 different countries around the world, including the United States, Brazil, Ghana and Jordan. Clayton remains a strong advocate for the hungry and the poor and she continuously promotes sustainable agriculture and equality in this country and around the world.