On this day in 1960, history was made when Andrew Hatcher was named the associate press secretary by President John F. Kennedy. Hatcher was also a founding member of 100 Black Men of America.
Mr. Hatcher was born June 19, 1923 in Princeton, N.J. As a student at Massachusetts’ Springfield College in the early ’40’s, Hatcher interrupted his studies to join the U.S. Army during the Second World War. After serving three years, Hatcher returned to school, but records are difficult to obtain regarding his completion although he was a member of the school’s alumni council.
Hatcher’s career path took him to Northern California where he worked as a reporter for a Black newspaper, The San Francisco Sun-Reporter. Before long, Hatcher shifted from journalism to politics, working extensively with the Democratic Party. He was appointed to then California governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown’s Cabinet as an assistant secretary of labor.
Hatcher was hired as a speechwriter for New York governor Adlai Stevenson during his pair of failed runs for president in the ’50’s. The move to the East Coast came with an unexpected perk. Hatcher’s friend Pierre Salinger joined the Kennedy presidential campaign and brought Hatcher along, making him the first African-American to serve in the White House press office. Hatcher role was to help Kennedy navigate the icy relationship between whites and Blacks in America at the time.
Hatcher was met with criticism from both the African-American community and white Democrats who believed he didn’t have the experience necessary for the job. Yet Hatcher maintained a personal life and was a father of seven with ambitions outside of politics. In 1963, he was one of the co-founders for the 100 Black Men of America organization.
Little is known about Hatcher’s career after Kennedy’s tragic assassination in 1963. Reports indicate that he was working as an executive doing business with South Africa in the late ’70’s, but that was looked down upon by his peers due to the African nation’s racist apartheid policy.
Hatcher passed in 1990 in Suffolk County, Va.
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