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Wednesday’s unveiling of statue honoring former Gary Mayor Richard G. Hatcher

Mayor Hatcher's statue is a monument to a man and his city

Contributed By:The 411 News

Elected in the 60's, Hatcher symbolized the changing of American politics

The installation of the statue for former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher is not only a tribute to a man but also to Gary’s citizens.

“He symbolized the changing of American politics,” said Judy Cherry, mistress of ceremony at the unveiling Wednesday, October 9, “for those of us who understood the implications and those who came to understand those implications.”

Hatcher was elected mayor in the sixties, a decade of change. The same night he won, November 7, 1967, Carl Stokes was elected Cleveland, Ohio’s first black mayor.

The 60’s can be looked at as part of the 2nd Reconstruction. It was a decade of correcting civil and human rights abuses that had lingered in American society since the U.S. Civil War and the failures of the first Reconstruction era that followed it.

Gary citizens were active in civil rights protests during the 1950-60’s, organizing for jobs and housing. They were the base for the young Gary city councilman’s 1967 mayoral campaign.

Gary’s Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Hatcher led generations of young people to follow in his footsteps. “It lives today in Montgomery, Alabama where Steven Reed was elected its first African American mayor.” Reed won a run-off Tuesday against David Woods, a television station owner.

The Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan said the country needs more people like Mayor Hatcher. “Men and women who can change any present reality. Mayor Hatcher has been a servant not only to blacks. He struggled to make other communities more humane and understand how they dealt with the underserved and underprivileged.”

Groundwork for the bronze statue began two years ago during the 50th anniversary of Hatcher’s election, at a 2017 celebration held at West Side High School. Rev. Jesse Jackson of Operation PUSH, one of the featured speakers, said a statue should be erected in Gary honoring the mayor. “And a second one should go in Merrillville, because he helped found it,” Jackson said.

Minister Farrakhan, the next featured speaker, announced he would be the first to donate money for the statue.

WBEZ-Chicago Radio journalist Michael Puente commented at that time, “Mayor Hatcher is the only person I know that can bring Minister Farrakhan and Rev. Jackson together in one room.”

"With Minister Farrakhan’s donation, funds from the Hatcher Legacy Foundation, and the largest contribution coming from the City of Gary,” Hatcher’s statue was completed, said daughter Ragen Hatcher.

Renee Hatcher, his youngest daughter told Wednesday’s crowd, “My dad doesn’t like to hear people talk about his accomplishments as if they were his own. He cared so deeply for the people of this city. I think he is so beloved because he loved people. So much of his time was spent looking out for those who had been overlooked.”

Hatcher is Gary’s longest serving mayor, from 1968-1987.

Hatcher’s statue stands on the south side of City Hall. A statue for Judge Elbert Gary, for whom the city is named, stands on the Broadway side of City Hall.

Standing at the base, on the right, are former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, his daughters Renee and Ragen

Story Posted:10/11/2019

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