Indiana’s Richard Hatcher, one of nation’s first black mayors, dead at 86

Written by on December 26, 2019

Richard Hatcher, one of the nation’s first black mayors is dead at the age of 86.

Hatcher, the former five-term mayor of Gary, Indiana, passed away over the weekend at a hospital in Chicago, according to his daughter, Indiana state Rep.  Ragen Hatcher, a Gary Democrat.

“In the last days of his life, he was surrounded by his family and loved ones,” his family said in a statement.

“While deeply saddened by his passing, his family is very proud of the life he lived, including his many contributions to the cause of racial and economic justice and the more than 20 years of service he devoted to the city of Gary.”

Hatcher first took office in 1967, going against the local Democratic party machine to do so.

Hatcher went on to put together the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary and chair Jesse Jackson’s Democratic presidential campaign in 1984.

“Mayor Richard Hatcher was not just a historical figure, he was a transformational figure. We thank him, and we miss him,” said Jackson, who may speak at Hatcher’s upcoming funeral service.

Despite getting millions in federal funding for housing, roadwork and garbage collection during Hatcher’s time in office, Gary’s economy nosedived thanks in large part to the fall of the steel industry.

The city has lost close 50,000 residents since he left office in 1987 and has a current population of 76,000 according to reports.

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