The Ventura County community is saddened by the passing of a civil rights icon and NAACP legend, Mr. John R. Hatcher III. He transitioned on the morning of Friday, November 3, 2017. Mr. John R. Hatcher III, NAACP Ventura County President and life member, has been a civil rights leader in the NAACP for over sixty years. For more than 38 years, Hatcher was reelected as the President of the Ventura County chapter of the NAACP.
Mr. John R. Hatcher III distinguished himself in Ventura County, the state of California, and the nation as a civil rights advocate, humanitarian, community leader, and social activist. In a time when our nation needed peace, love, and understanding, Mr. Hatcher served his community with dignity, respect, transparency, and healing. As a watch dog for civil rights in Ventura County, John R. Hatcher III had been one of the NAACP’s most vocal supporters and advocates. Respected as a champion of diversity, equality, and racial justice for all people, Mr. Hatcher’s reputation in Ventura County, the state of California, and the nation was hailed far and wide as a defender of the rights of those marginalized as a result of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, or socio-economic status.
In 1980, Hatcher was elected as the NAACP’s Southern Area President serving an unprecedented eight-year term. The Southern area of the NAACP includes California, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, and Arizona. In addition, Hatcher served as Chairman for five area Presidents of the NAACP representing nine states. In 1990, Hatcher was appointed as the International NAACP Omega Chair. Under his thoughtful leadership and vision, Hatcher helped to elevate the NAACP into one of the nation’s most recognized civil rights and advocacy based organizations.
In defending and mitigating local, state, and regional legal cases, Mr. Hatcher was respected for working with local, city, county, state, and federal officials in negotiating racial and social issues. Some of Hatcher’s past accomplishments included being a television host of the first African-American cable television show in Ventura County “What’s Going On,” Co-founder and President of the Ventura County African-American Chamber of Commerce, and he was instrumental in establishing the first Ventura County African-American Newspaper, “Tri-County Sentry.”
Hatcher, an Equal Employment Officer (EEO) by profession, was among the very few people in government certified to train EEOs. While working for the Department of the Navy, Hatcher was a key developer of the Asian Pacific, Native American, Hispanic, Black Affairs, and Federal Women’s programs (FWP). He was also an Affirmative Action Advisor for State and local communities. Hatcher believed that one of his most notable achievements was the establishment of the NAACP Saturday School located on the campus of California Lutheran University.
Hatcher’s iconic legacy includes four generations of civil rights leaders. John R., as he was known to many in the community, was a formidable advocate who was often seen in multiple neighborhoods and government official offices, ensuring peace and understanding for the community he so loved.
Hatcher graduated from La Verne University with honors in Psychology and Sociology. He was a life-time member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, OMEGA PSI PHI Fraternity, American Management Association, Professional Housing Managers Association, and the State of California Civil Rights Task Force. Mr. Hatcher was also a member of the Democratic Party of Alabama in North Birmingham which was founded by his late father John R. Hatcher II. John R. Hatcher III retired from the United States Air Force and the Department of the Navy.
Mr. Hatcher has been recognized throughout the years with many distinguished awards and honors. In 2012, John R was recognized by California State University Channel Islands as one of the first recipients of the American-American Achievement Awards.
Hatcher’s iconic leadership and inclusive vision has left the citizens of Ventura County and the State of California a better place. He will be greatly missed.