Richard Hatcher

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Richard Hatcher

Richard Hatcher was the first black mayor of Gary, Indiana.


Richard Gordon Hatcher was born on July 10, 1933, in Michigan City, Indiana. He received a B.S. degree in business and government from Indiana University in 1956, and a bachelor of law with honors in criminal law and a J.D. from Valparaiso University School of Law in 1959.

After moving to Gary, Indiana, Hatcher began practicing law in East Chicago, Indiana. In 1961, he began serving as a deputy prosecutor for Lake County, Indiana, until he was elected to Gary's City Council in 1963. He was the first and only freshman elected president of the City Council in Gary's history. When he was elected as mayor of Gary in 1967, Hatcher was the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city. He remained in office for an unprecedented five terms, until 1987, when he was defeated in a bid for a sixth term. During his twenty years as mayor, Hatcher was known for developing innovative approaches to urban problems and for being a national and international spokesman for civil rights, minorities, the poor and America's cities.

In 1988, Hatcher started his own consulting firm, R. Gordon Hatcher & Associates. From 1988 to 1989, he worked as an Institute of Politics fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School. He also began teaching political science at Roosevelt University in 1989 and then at Valparaiso University, where he is a senior research professor, in 1991. In the summer of 1996, Hatcher taught a law course at Cambridge University in England, and since 1989 he has worked as an adjunct professor at Indiana University.

Hatcher has authored numerous articles about urban affairs, civil rights, politics and law and has been working on a book. Hatcher has many affiliations and memberships with various civic, urban, political and civil rights organizations and has received a myriad of awards and honors for his lifetime of dedication to his community.[1]

Exploiting the black vote

Around October 1971 Percy Sutton returned to Chicago, for another smokefilled- room meeting plus the third annual Black Expo, the black trade show — cultural fair sponsored by Jesse Jackson's Operation Breadbasket, the economic action wing of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Sutton was going to run one of the political seminars that will be a part of Black Expo, which has drawn around 500,000 visitors during its first two years and is aiming at 750,000 this time in its Sept. 29-Oct 3 run.

Sutton, along with Rep. John Conyers, D.-Mich., Cleveland mayor Carl Stokes and Gary, Ind., mayor Richard Hatcher, were to be giving chalk talks on how to register voters and what to do with them when you have them registered, which is get them to vote as a bloc.[2]

National Black Political Convention

Unity June 22, 1984

Mayor Richard Hatcher, Rep. Charles Diggs, Amiri Baraka, Jesse Jackson at the National Black Political Convention, Gary Indiana 1972.


Although money was a problem at first, initial backing came from Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton, Gary, Indiana Mayor Richard Hatcher, Aretha Franklin, Jim Brown, and Ossie Davis.[3]

Jackson connection

As a long time friend and advisor to the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Hatcher also played a leading role in Jackson's bids for the presidency as campaign chairman in 1984 and an adviser in 1988.[4]

National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment

April 16, 1975, Mayor Richard Hatcher, Gary Indiana, was on the Current List of Sponsors of the Communist Party USA front National Coalition to Fight Inflation and Unemployment.[5]

Endorsed Communist Party front

1982 National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression pamphlet

In 1982 Richard Hatcher endorsed a Communist Party USA front, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which was led by leading Party members Angela Davis and Charlene Mitchell.



SURVIVAL FEST 84 was held August 5 1984 in MacArthur Park.

"Come To Hear And Strategize With Those Changing The 1980's"

  • How can we support each other in electing progressive local candidates?
  • How can we make electoral work serve the grassroots movements for a freeze, for U.S. out of Central America and human needs?
  • How can we over turn the racist dual primary system in the South?
  • Is working inside and outside the Democratic Party a viable strategy and how can it be done?
  • How can we formulate demands to revitalize our basic industries without falling into the pitfall of the chauvinist anti-import solution -- letting U.S. finance capital off the hook?

This event was organized by the Communist Workers Party front, the Coalition for a People's Convention. The event was advertised in a half-page notice in the Marxist weekly Guardian, their Book Supplement - Summer 1984, p. 12, and the Communist Workers Party and Federation For Progress were listed as participants.

National endorsers of the event included Richard Hatcher, mayor Gary Indiana.

Rememembering Claude Lightfoot

On September 7, 1991, more than 300 people gathered at the St James methodist Church on Chicago's South side to remember the life of Communist Party USA national committee member, Claude Lightfoot. Speaker Richard Hatcher, spoke of "being encouraged by his efforts at reform, by Lightfoot on many occasions". Lightfoot had lived in Gary Indiana, the last years of his life.[6].


  1. HistoryMakers bio, accessed July 2013
  2. Times Herald, Blacks Flex Muscles That Can Reshape Elections, Priorities By RALPH NOVAK, Carroll Iowa, Sept 28, 1971, page 9]
  3. [Jackson PUSHes On". Time. Time Inc. January 3, 1972. Retrieved May 1, 2002]
  4. HistoryMakers bio, accessed July 2013
  5. Congressional Record, "Inflation and Unemployment: The Communist Party's New Drive - Part I", April 16, 1975, Extension of Remarks, pages 10436-1-439, Rep. Larry McDonald (D-GA)
  6. PWW September 21 1991, page 9