Reverend John F. Hatchett was born and raised in Pontiac, Michigan, where as a high school student he served as president of the local NAACP Youth Chapter. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wayne University in 1955. He later attended the Boston University School of Theology and graduated in 1958. Hatchett served as acting chancellor at Alabama A&M College from 1958 until he moved to Greensboro in 1959 to work as a professor at Bennett College.
While at Bennett, Hatchett served as an advisor to the Bennett chapter of the NAACP and later became involved in the formation of the local CORE chapter. As a member of CORE, he participated in numerous sit-ins, marches, and pickets, and he later served as a spokesman for the group.
Hatchett’s participation in the Greensboro civil rights movement ended in 1963, when he left Bennett College and moved to New York City. There he attended graduate school at New York University and Columbia University and taught in the public schools. In July 1968, Hatchett was appointed director of the Afro-American Student Center at New York University, but was dismissed three months later amid claims of anti-semitism in his 1967 article “The Phenomenon of the Anti-Black Jews and the Black Anglo-Saxon: A Study in Educational Perfidy.” Rev. Hatchett remained in New York, and is also author of Notes from the Mind of a Black Philosopher, Hatshepsut: A Beautiful African Queen of the Nile, and To a Black Goddess: Poems Devoted to Blackness, Life, and Authenticity.