Remembering Dr. J. Blaine Hudson (1949-2013)
I was saddened yesterday to hear that my favorite professor from my time at the University of Louisville passed away over the weekend. I was lucky enough to see him last year at a book signing for Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History and reconnect, unaware that his time with us was short. I felt it was important to honor his memory and I can think of no place more fitting to do so then here at the League. From a short piece in the Courier Journal:
In 1969, Hudson was arrested and expelled after occupying the same dean’s office he would later hold. He and other protesters demanded more black faculty, African-American representation on the board of trustees and the creation of a Pan-African Studies Department.
Hudson taught history and Pan-African studies classes for years while holding various administrative posts. He was Pan-African Studies Department chairman from 1998 to 2003 and was an associate dean from 1999 to 2004.
Hudson, a lifelong Louisville resident, received his doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Kentucky and his master’s and bachelor’s degrees from U of L.
Hudson was active in the community, working to teach others outside the university setting about black history and working to combat violence in western Louisville.
Hudson has been chair of the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission and founded a program called the Saturday Academy, an enrichment program to teach people about African-American history and world history from an African-American perspective.
A convenient part of working on two social science degrees was that I could use required course for one degree as electives for the other. So at some point I needed a credit in Pan-African Studies, Dr. Hudson was teaching African American History I and it satisfied both degrees. Being a suburban white kid I registered with a little hesitation that I would be viewed as an interloper but my fears were unfounded. Due to his popularity on campus the class was very diverse and at maximum capacity. To my delight Dr. Hudson taught the class specifically focusing on African Americans in Kentucky and I enjoyed it immensely. I would go on to take African American History II with him the following spring. The classes were challenging but not unfairly difficult. His lectures were engaging and informative. Somewhere in my basement I still have my notes from both. I think I am offering a factual opinion when I say that there was no one that knew more about African American history in Kentucky than Dr.Hudson.
A couple of years after studying under Dr.Hudson I found myself on an archaeological dig at a former slave site in southern Louisville. Dr.Hudson knew about our work through connections at the Kentucky Heritage Council and he was interested in it for obvious reasons. Because there were few scholars who found it important to document slave life in Kentucky the work we were doing was important. When Dr. Hudson asked about our work we were happy to share our findings. Getting his stamp of approval made all of us beam with pride.
As the article notes, Dr. Hudson was once arrested for protesting outside the dean’s office he would one day occupy himself. He was instrumental in bringing more diversity to the university and founding the Pan-African Studies program. His accessibility as a scholar, a mentor and simply a good person made him a resource that many people relied on. The man was a legend on campus and one that will be missed.
Video of Dr.Hudson here.