Open main menu

Richard Gordon Hatcher (born July 10, 1933) is an American politician. On January 1, 1968, he became the first African-American mayor of Gary, Indiana. He and Carl Stokes (who was elected mayor of Cleveland on the same day) became, on November 7, 1967, the first two black elected mayors of cities of more than 100,000 people.

Richard G. Hatcher
Richard Hatcher 1967 (a).jpg
Hatcher in 1967
Mayor of Gary, Indiana
In office
January 1, 1968 – January 1, 1988
Preceded byA. Martin Katz
Succeeded byThomas V. Barnes
Vice-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee
In office
Personal details
Richard Gordon Hatcher

(1933-07-10) July 10, 1933 (age 86)
Michigan City, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Alma mater


Hatcher was born in Michigan City, Indiana. He received a B.S. degree in business and government from Indiana University and a bachelor of law with honors in criminal law in 1956 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.

Elected in 1967, Hatcher was inaugurated mayor of Gary in 1968 and served until 1987. During his tenure as mayor, he became internationally known as a fervent and prolific civil rights spokesman. 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. He often delivered speeches alongside Martin Luther King, Robert F. Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and other historic proponents of the civil rights movement. On April 5, 1968, he addressed President Lyndon B. Johnson, along with a collection of politicians and civil rights leaders, on the topic of the King assassination the night before and pending civil unrest.[1][2]

In the 1984 U.S. presidential election, Mayor Hatcher served as the chairman for Jackson's campaign. He served as the Vice-Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1981 to 1985. 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 of Government. He also began teaching political science at Roosevelt University in 1989 and later became a senior research professor at Valparaiso University, in 1991. In the summer of 1996, Hatcher taught a law course at Cambridge University in England. In 1991 he sought to retake his former position as mayor, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Thomas Barnes in the Democratic primary.[3] He currently serves as an adjunct professor at Indiana University-Northwest.


  1. ^ Kotz, Nick (2005). "14. Another Martyr". Judgment days : Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and the laws that changed America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. p. 417. ISBN 0-618-08825-3.
  2. ^ Johnson, Lyndon Baines (5 April 1968). "182 – Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Enactment of the Fair Housing Bill". American Presidency Project. Retrieved 19 July 2012. We should pass the Fair Housing law when the Congress convenes next week.
  3. ^ "Indiana Elections 1991. Voters boot mayors in Muncie,". Northwest Indiana Times. 6 November 1991. Retrieved 11 September 2019.

External linksEdit