When it was first proposed that this building be named after me, I hesitated. Being a man of tradition, I always felt it was more appropriate to name a building or street for someone after their passing, as a way to honor their work. Admittedly, it took some convincing by Board Chair Earl Leake and others. After much processing and discussion with my wife, Cindy, the prevailing factor that led me to say "yes" was that it was for the sake of posterity. I envisioned walking into the building with my grandchildren and had thoughts of others doing the same with future generations. I saw them talking about the sacrifices of many who made Charlotte great, and the enormous history and accomplishments of the African American community. And I remembered my parents and others who served as inspirations to me. I am forever grateful to them for being the driving force and motivation in my life.
I thought about the enormous history of the residents of the historic Second Ward community of "Brooklyn," where the Gantt Center now stands. I hope that those who have already "crossed over" can smile and feel proud knowing that we have not forgotten their sacrifices; how they nurtured, pushed and prodded young minds to strive for excellence. We are forever grateful to them. Brooklyn residents often referred to the old Myers School as the "Jacob's Ladder School." Its skyward stairway was a visible reminder of the importance of aspiring to greater things and a good education. Not just teachers, but an entire community rallied behind the youth, molding bright minds.
That's why I agreed to the naming of the building, and that's why I want you to join me in celebrating our history and the dawning of a new day for all of us. Charlotte is a great community and the Carolinas are a great region. I call this home because the city and community represent all that is symbolic to steadfastness and a "can do" attitude. While our nation and world still struggle with acknowledging and appreciating our differences, the Gantt Center can serve as a vehicle for people to come celebrate African American art, history and culture. Residents and visiting friends alike will have numerous opportunities to enjoy all aspects of Levine Center for the Arts. The Gantt Center will serve as one of the entry points to experience the arts, sporting events and many other amenities that Charlotte has to offer. Thank you for your interest in and support of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture. May this edifice always stand as a symbol that this community and nation are places where we all "belong".
By Harvey B. Gantt