On The Death of Prof. J. Blaine Hudson (1949-2013)
by Celucien L. Joseph, Ph.D.
With great sadness, I learned today and read in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education about the death of Prof. Hudson J. Blaine Hudson (1949-2013). According to the memoriam, “J. Blaine Hudson, who has served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Louisville from 2005 to December 2012, has died. He had been on medical leave since August. Dr. Hudson had planned to return to the university as a faculty member in 2014.
Dr. Hudson taught history and was chair of the Pan-African studies department from 1998 to 2003. He was the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1999 to 2004. He collaborated on the 2011 book Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History (Butler Books, 2011) and was the author of Encyclopedia of the Underground Railroad (McFarland & Co. 2006) and Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland (McFarland & Co., 2002).
Dr. Hudson held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Louisville and a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Kentucky.”
Prof. Hudson was my first “Black Professor” in College at the University of Louisville. My very first one! He was the first one who taught me about transatlantic slavery, school segregation, and the very idea of the Black Diaspora. It was in his class that I was first introduced to African American history and African American intellectual thought. Prof. Hudson also introduced me to seminal figures and texts in American and African American history such as John Hope’s Franklin classic text, “From Slavery to Freedom,” Booker T. Washington’s “Up from Slavery,” W. E. B. Du Bois’s “Souls of the Black Folk,” and “Philadelphia Negro,” Frederick Douglass’ “Slave Narrative,” Leronne Bennett’s “Before the May Flower: A History of Black America,” and Carter G. Woodson’s “The Miseducation of the Negro;” about great men and women of African ancestry such as Julia Cooper, Phillis Wheatley, Sojourner Truth, Martin R. Delany, Edward W. Blyden, Alexander Crummell, Henry Highland Garnet, W.E.B. Du Bois, E. Franklin Frazier, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King, Toussaint Louverture, Jea-Jacques Dessalines (these individuals had not only transformed the American culture for the better but also contributed to the betterment of humanity elsewhere beyond the shores of North America.) etc.; about different schools of thought in African American Intellectual history: emigration, assimilation, cultural nationalism, political nationalism; and about historic cultural and freedom movements such as The Harlem Renaissance, The Black Power Movement, Black Panther, The Civil Rights Movement, The Haitian Revolution, etc. It was also in Prof. Hudson’s class that I was first introduced to different views of Blacks in Antiquity and about Black civilization in ancient Egypt. He informed us about the significance of Frank M. Snowden’s classic text, “Blacks in Antiquity,” for understanding the cultural and intellectual shift and view of blacks in the modern world vs. to those of the classical Greco-Roman culture and civilization.
Interestingly, one year after earning my first MA (University of Louisville), I found myself pursuing PhD studies in the very subject and people Dr. Hudson had taught me about. Prof. Hudson provided the historical background and nurtured me in the intellectual milieu in which to complete a Ph.D. (University of Texas at Dallas) with specialization fields in African American Literature, African American Cultural and Intellectual History, and Caribbean Culture, Literature, and Thought. Subsequently, I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation in Black Internationalism (“‘The Haitian Turn’: Haiti, The Black Atlantic, and Black Transnational Consciousness,” 2012), comparing the literature and history of the Black Diaspora. In particular, I investigated the relationship between the Harlem Renaissance, the Negritude Movement, and the Haitian Indigenism as well as the impact of the Haitian Revolution and Haiti’s national on the Black intellectuals and writers associated with these cultural and literary movements. Prof. Hudson had planted the intellectual seed in me to pursue this particular research topic and become today a scholar of African American Literature and AA Cultural and Intellectual History, as well as The Black Atlantic Atlantic Thought and Culture.
Prof. Hudson had both directly and indirectly influenced me to publish my first book Race, Religion, and The Haitian Revolution: Essays on Faith, Freedom, and Decolonization (CreateSpace, 2012). Unfortunately, since I graduated from the University of Louisville in 2004 and left Louisville, Kentucky to pursue further studies in Texas in 2005, I have never gone back to the University of Louisville to see Prof. Hudson. I regret that I have never communicated to him more directly about his intellectual impact on my intellectual development as a scholar and an interpreter of the Black Atlantic culture and thought.
I will always remember Prof. J. Blaine Hudson as a mentor and as a person who had taught me about the complexity of the human experience, the fragility of life, and in particular one who had sown the intellectual seed and passion in me to study the “Black Experience” in the African Diaspora. He was a generous and kind person, and an astute scholar who loved his students and all people. Prof. Hudson was also a scholar-activist who promoted better and effective education for African American students. My prayers are with your family and loved ones. I thank you for instilling in me the love for learning and a passion to sharpen and nurture the mind. May your tribe increase!
Filed under: African American History, African Literature, Black Aestethic, Black Aesthetic, Black Freedom, Black Intellectuals, Black Internationalism, Black Literature, Black Marxism, Black Radicalism, Black Religion, the Black Diaspora, Uncategorized Tagged: | African American activists, African American Culture, African American Giants, African American History, An Intellectual Influence: On The Death of Prof. J. Blaine Hudson (1949-2013), Black history, J. Blaine Hudson's influence on me, My intellectual pilgrimage, On The Death of Prof. J. Blaine Hudson (1949-2013), Prof. Hudson