Brian J. Varela | Ventura County Star

An Oxnard post office could soon be named after a late civil rights activist and leader of the Ventura County chapter of the NAACP.

Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday requesting the U.S. Post Office located at 1961 N. C St. in Oxnard be called the John R. Hatcher III Post Office Building.

“John was a pillar of our community,” Brownley said in a statement. “It was his passion for social justice and civil rights that guided him. He was an outspoken and fierce advocate of our community, which he loved so much.”

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1936, Hatcher has a family history of civil rights activism. His father, John R. Hatcher II, served as a civil rights leader during the Jim Crow era and founded the Democratic Party of Alabama in North Birmingham.

The younger Hatcher followed in his family’s footsteps and fought for racial equality for more than 60 years as a member of the NAACP. For nearly four decades, Hatcher III served as the leader of the Ventura County Chapter of the civil rights organization. 

He was also the NAACP Southern Area president for eight years, presiding over California, Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, Utah and Oregon.

Hatcher III, who lived in Oxnard for most of his life, died Nov. 3, 2017 due to natural causes. 

“He was instrumental in establishing and founding many of the organizations that, to this day, support, encourage and empower the Black American community throughout Ventura County,” Brownley said.

A 22-year Air Force veteran, Hatcher helped create the Ventura County African-American Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-County Sentry, an African-American led newspaper, according to the statement from Brownley’s office.

Hatcher also spearheaded the naming of the Oxnard School District’s Thurgood Marshall School after the nation’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice. 

In 2013, Hatcher received the African-American Achievement Award from CSU Channel Islands.

“We are truly honored for this incredible tribute,” said JoAnne E. Hatcher, John’s widow, in the statement. “My husband, John, would be so proud to know that his work did not go unnoticed.

“As many know, my husband fought to eliminate racial injustices and systematic inequalities. He defended the rights of all people who suffered from the unequal and unilateral hands of justice and the biases of unfair policies and practices in employment.”

This story originally appeared in Ventura County Star on October 21, 2021.