First black mayor of a major U.S. city dies at 86

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Richard Hatcher, Coleman Young, Maynard Jackson

FILE – In this June 12, 1979 file photo, Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., center, reads a telegram to the United States Senate that he and seven other mayors sent regarding a proposal to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, in Pittsburgh, Penn., during the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Coleman Young of Detroit, left, and Maynard Jackson of Atlanta also spoke. On Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, Hatcher, who became one of the first black mayors of a big U.S. city when he was elected in 1967, died. He was 86. (AP Photo)

GARY, Ind. (AP) – Former Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher, who became one of the first black mayors of a big U.S. city when he was elected in 1967, has died.

He was 86.

Hatcher became the political face of Gary and a political force for blacks after his ground-breaking election.

He organized the 1972 National Black Political Convention in Gary and served as chairman of Jesse Jackson’s Democratic presidential campaign in 1984 and vice chairman four years later.

He is best known for his surprise victory in the 1967 mayoral election at the age of 34.

He had to overcome opposition from the local Democratic machine to become mayor of what was then Indiana’s second-largest city.

He went on to serve five terms.

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