J. Blaine Hudson, a longtime University of Louisville educator and leading voice in the city’s African-American community, died on Saturday.
He was 63.
In the past year, Hudson took a prominent role as the chairman of a work group assembled by Mayor Greg Fischer that was assigned to suggest ways to reduce violence in Louisville following the daytime shooting that left three dead in May in Parkland.
But Hudson abruptly stepped down from the role in August and took a leave of absence from U of L, where he was dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, following cranial surgery.
In a statement, Fischer said:
“Dr. Hudson was a true public servant who cared deeply about Louisville and its people. He understood the city’s history, and he selflessly shared his learnings and insights from both an academic and real-life perspective. Though he grew up in times of racial segregation, his entire life was spent helping bridge racial divides, from his work at the University of Louisville to his Saturday Academy to his book about African-American History in Louisville to his most recent work serving as co-chair of the city’s violence prevention work group. He leaves a deep and lasting legacy and our city is grateful for his life.”
Last month, U of L announced that Hudson would step down as the A&S dean but return to the faculty in 2014.
Hudson, who held degrees from the University of Kentucky and U of L, became acting dean of U of L’s College of Arts and Sciences in March 2004 and was named to the post permanently in May 2005. He’d also served as the chair of the department of Pan-African studies. He’d also served as chairman of the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission.
He’d also led the Saturday Academy, a series of educational programs focused on African-American culture and issues and last year published Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History, with Mervin Aubespin and Kenneth Clay.
In a statement released Saturday night, University of Louisville President James Ramsey said:
“Blaine’s many years and contributions as a faculty member, department chair and dean has had and will have a lasting impact on generations of UofL students. Blaine was a visionary and leader in the academy and the community. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Hudson was born in Louisville and became involved in civil rights when a downtown theater barred his entrance, according to KET’s Living the Story. KET adds this:
“Later, as a student at the University of Louisville, he demonstrated at the Arts and Sciences dean’s office, demanding improvement in educational opportunities for African-American students. He and several fellow protestors were arrested and tried under the newly enacted Kentucky Anti-Riot Act. The charges were eventually dismissed, but Hudson was forbidden by the judge to return to campus for one year.”
Kaila Story, an assistant professor in U of L’s departments of Pan-African studies, said she was shocked by news of Hudson’s death. She told WFPL’s Gabe Bullard that Hudson was a “giant of a man.”
“Blaine had a very activist-oriented public intellectual persona that he had a time when there weren’t professors necessarily doing those types of things in terms of their scholarship,” Story said.