BETSY BRINSON: This is an interview with James Blaine Hudson. It takesplace in his office at the University of Louisville. The interviewer is Betsy Brinson.
BRINSON: To begin, give me your full name so I can see if I can get a voice level.
JAMES HUDSON: James Blaine Hudson, technically the third.
BRINSON: The third? Okay.
BRINSON: And you were born when and where?
HUDSON: I was born September 8, 1949, here in Louisville, Kentucky.
BRINSON: Thank you very much for agreeing to talk with me today --
BRINSON: I'd be interested, Blaine, in hearing a little about your earlygrowing up --
BRINSON: What made up your family?
HUDSON: Well, when I was born, our household consisted of my mother and myfather and my grandmother and my grandfather. My grandparents had been 1:00educators in New Albany. My grandfather had been a principal of the uh -- of Scribner High School, the black high school in New Albany, Indiana.
BRINSON: Tell me the name of the high school --
HUDSON: Scribner --
HUDSON: Scribner High School. My grandmother had been a teacher there untilher retirement, and then they moved to Louisville basically to live with my parents at that point. My mother was working for Municipal Housing or whatever it was called at that time. My father was a pharmacist, and at times would have his own business and other times he would be working as a pharmacist in other people's businesses. And at the time I was born, the family was pretty stable, never really large but stable. My parents had been married since 1937, so when 2:00I was born in 1949 I came as something of a surprise obviously. They, I guess, had figured that they wouldn't be able to have children, and twelve years later, they did. So my mother was actually thirty-eight years old when I was born. That's pretty old in those days. And my father was forty-four, almost forty-five, which was, was old. So one of the interesting things that dominated my, my early years was, I guess, a major change that affected my family. Beginning in 1950, 1951, we begin to have a series of deaths, primarily among the male members of my family: my grandfather, my great aunt's husband, eventually a great uncle, and then, of course, my father in fifty-seven and my 3:00uncle, my mother's brother, in sixty-one. And so by the time I was twelve years old, I was the oldest male in my immediate family; and our family had undergone a transformation in the sense from being a family that was pretty solidly middle class at least in terms of resources; to a family that was certainly--in our case here in Louisville--on the verge of poverty, if not all the way there. And, you know, looking back on it, that experience, I think, was extremely formative, it was formative. I won't say it was a good experience but it's an experience I learned a lot from that I think was valuable in later years. The person who seemed to really step forward in my family at that time was my 4:00grandmother. My grandmother really became the central person in our larger family and probably the most important influence on me when I was very, very young.
BRINSON: How did she do that?
HUDSON: Well, my grandmother was a very unusual woman. She was in hermid-sixties by the time I was born and, of course, I guess she figured she was going to enjoy a fairly calm and peaceful retirement. As it turned out, that was not to be the case and, of course, as the women in the family were responsible for more of the -- just the day-to-day, you know, putting the bread on the table side of it, my grandmother --of course, her pension helped with some of that, but she was really the one that kept the family together. I had two first cousins, one of them is dead now, who were little bit younger than I am, and so she had these three grandchildren, two in Dayton and me here. And, 5:00you know, she was the focal point and kept everybody together. But she was a very strong personality. Not in the way we would normally think of people as being strong. She was a very bright woman, very well educated, very well-read, been an educator all of her life; had a very, very open and receptive mind for someone that age. She was always reading something new, always interested in new things, and always willing to encourage--and particularly me because I was the oldest grandchild--to do things that, that weren't necessarily the norm or weren't necessarily popular. She encouraged me in my writing, my poetry, in many of the interests that I had. And, and really with her commitment to our family, was really something singular. And at the time, you know, you sort of 6:00figure well everybody's got a grandmother like that. But as the years go by, you begin to realize that she was something very, very special. Much of my early education came from her. I can still remember to this day shaping my letters in clay on a mirror that was on the top of a table when I was like three years old with her. And she lived to be almost one hundred and one years old, so she was around until I was--she died in 1986--so I would have been almost thirty-seven when she died. But she was, she was really a very, very special person. You know, we had a lot of special people in the family, and that was one of the things that helped keep up together. Our family has a very long history, some of which I've researched and learned more about in recent years. 7:00But along with that history, we had a -- there were a lot of very good friends as well as strong people in the family. Many of my father's friends and business partners, you know, saw what had happened to our family 'cause my father was a semi-invalid for two years before he died. He suffered a devastating stroke when I was six years old --
BRINSON: As I recall, he made his living being a pharmacist?
HUDSON: That's right, he was a pharmacist. And so he couldn't work and many ofthe insurance and other kinds of arrangements that exist now was certainly not in place then. And so not only did we have to find a way to take care of him but we had to also find a way to compensate to some extent for lost earnings. And he had friends who were doctors that he had gone to school with who gave us free medical care. There were other people-- . of course, my family was part of 8:00Louisville's old black middle-class. The man who was at one time President of Mammoth Life, would take me out shopping a couple times a year and buy me a couple of new suits. And --
BRINSON: And what was his name then?
HUDSON: Hankins. His name was Hankins, Julius Hankins. So there were a lot ofpeople like that. And so even though my own father wasn't there, I had really a great deal of exposure to an awful lot of male images. My mother and my grandmother had a real good feel for, I think, raising male children and not all people do. But they did and it was -- so I really, in a sense, had a lot of male role models to chose from including the ones in my own family that I could remember. But it turned out to be a very rich childhood. Had its ups and downs 9:00but it was a very rich childhood.
BRINSON: Tell me a little bit, Blaine, about your early education.
HUDSON: Well, I went to kindergarten and elementary school at a school calledJames M. Bond and, of course, Bond was a major figure in Louisville in the early part of the Twentieth Century; and grandfather Julian Bond, I guess, is best reference for it. That was at Twenty-fourth and Cedar Street, not too far from where I grew up. Then I went to junior high school at Russell, which is now like an apartment building for older folks, at Eighteenth and Madison. In high school, went to a number of high schools. I started off at St. Ex because between my eighth and ninth grade years, I attended a special summer school for gifted children here in Louisville, and the Catholic Church ran the school and 10:00all that. And so I was thinking very seriously about going to a Catholic High School, but I didn't want to do so in the ninth grade because I was--there was a lot of things I wanted to do in the ninth grade like play basketball; and I was going to be editor of the paper at Russell and different things like that. And then there was an academic award I wanted to win, too, because that was a gold pin award for making the honor roll every grading period. And -- then plus all my friends were there so I was not in any big hurry to leave. But anyway, I stayed at St. Ex maybe about two weeks or so of my sophomore year and that was not working out. I was having to get there too early and ride the bus all across town, and I think there was one other black student there; no girls, the whole deal. And at the time I left St. Ex, however, I wanted to go to Male but 11:00back then there was kind of an unwritten quota system as far as how many African American students could transfer into some of these other schools.
BRINSON: Let me stop you there because Male, that's a school that completelynew to me, but it was a Louisville all-male public school?
HUDSON: Well, it wasn't at the time I was in high school. It had been anall-male school up until, I guess, the early fifties and then it desegregated in the mid to late fifties. By the time I went to Male --
BRINSON: In terms of race it was segregated?
HUDSON: In terms of race, yeah.
HUDSON: And so it became co-ed in the early fifties and then it becamedesegregated school pretty much on a token basis. By the time I went there, I guess African Americans were maybe a fourth of the school population. Within a year or so after I left, the school was probably seventy-five percent black. 12:00So, Male was going through a transition during most of that period. But I didn't go there until my junior year. I ended up going to Atherton in my sophomore year.
BRINSON: Atherton a --
HUDSON: A high school in the east end of Louisville, generally in an areathat's sort of upper middle class, predominately white. There are probably about ten black students at Atherton when I was there. Interesting experience --
BRINSON: It's a public school?
HUDSON: Oh yeah, it's a public school. It's history goes back to it being agirl's school like Atherton and Shawnee were the girl's schools, Male and Manuel were the boy's schools for whites. Central was the co-ed school for blacks. But they build a new Atherton out of that area.
BRINSON: So the all-male school just its name all-male even though --13:00
HUDSON: Liberal Male High School.
BRINSON: It was not an all-male school?
BRINSON: Okay. Is that still in existence?
HUDSON: Oh, sure. Male is still here. It's Male Traditional High School now.It's the oldest high school in Louisville, the one that claims to have the most tradition and my oldest child, my son, graduated from Male. I had another -- one of my other kids went there for a little while and nobody in the family is going there now.
BRINSON: Did you graduate from Atherton?
HUDSON: No. I transferred from Atherton to Male. Atherton was an interestingplace. I had a couple of interesting run-ins with white teachers there and, you know, I think I got --
BRINSON: Can you tell me about that?
HUDSON: Sure. Well, there was one, got a chemistry teacher, and I tookchemistry in my first period. And he had a picture of a chimpanzee on the 14:00inside of his cabinet behind his desk. It's early in the morning, right, and anytime someone would yawn he'd open up the door and point to the picture of the chimpanzee. Well, he and I got along okay until I got an 'A' the first grading period. And this is something I've run into a lot, you know, a lot of white Americans are willing to concede that a black person may be able to run faster or jump higher than they can but they have a real problem if you're smarter than they are. And, you know, having had to sort of live with that almost all of my life, it's something that has its own unusual set of dynamics. But the first grading period, I got an 'A' so after that it seemed like he was determined that I wasn't going to get two 'A's in a row in his class. And we had an examination and I think there were twenty-five questions on the examination. I got twenty-four out of twenty-five right, you know; my math tells me that is 15:00ninety-six; ninety-six is an 'A'. Well, he decided that instead of getting a ninety-six I got an eighty-eight or something like that. And he took points off because I didn't start my answer on the top line of the paper. And so, you know, I questioned that; and the next thing I know, I'm being sent to the office; and the next thing I know I'm on the bus going home. And so my mother had to come back out there and all this. Then I had a Latin teacher this is sort of funny, I've been writing poetry since I was eight years old--I enjoyed Latin, but Latin was enough to keep you busy about twenty minutes of the hour. So when I finished what I had to do, a lot of times I would look out the window, I'd be writing something. And this was one of those teachers that you just sort of knew that me just being in the class was a problem for her; just body language, facial language, the whole thing. And anyway, one day I was just 16:00writing some stuff while we were sitting in class. Other students were still working, I was through. So I wasn't doing anything disruptive. Well, she decided she was going to come by and throw my stuff on the floor and then tell me that I was suppose to pick it up. Well, I didn't pick it up, so I'm going down to the office again and I'm on the bus coming home again. And after that, you know, I didn't want to be there anyway but, you know, I went to Male the next year. What makes it so interesting is that when they made the announcement that I was a National Merit semi-finalist, at the beginning of my senior year at Male, there were some people out at Atherton who had the nerve to talk about how they basically had made me what I was. That was the damnedest thing I've heard! And I was interviewed about that years ago and I told some folks that the people who taught me in elementary school and junior high school were the ones 17:00who did that. But I didn't really -- you know, I didn't have a bad experience with some of the other teachers at Atherton. I didn't have a bad experience at Male. But you always knew that to some extent, at Atherton certainly, I was a stranger in a strange land. That was my first real experience with dealing with that. But I also recognized that I've had some experiences that a lot of other kids in my generation at that time had not had because from the time that I was five and six years old, I was involved in academic competitions. At the time those competitions were just beginning to desegregate so I was in the little spelling contests and the little math contests with kids from all over the county. And I was one of the few kids in my school who actually had the experience of doing that kind of thing. And, of course, by being able to do well in those kind of competitions, you know, my attitude towards whites was 18:00always very different from the attitudes that a lot of my contemporaries and my neighbors had.
BRINSON Let me make sure that I have this correct. You basically went tosegregated schools
BRINSON: Through elementary school --
HUDSON: And middle school --
BRINSON: And --
HUDSON: Uh, junior high school.
BRINSON: Junior high? And from then on, it was a more integrated experience?
HUDSON: Oh yeah. Once I left Russell, that was the last all-black school thatI would ever attend, yeah.
BRINSON: I wonder, Blaine, growing up, though, in a segregated society, do yourecall when you first were aware that it was a segregated society?
HUDSON: You know that is an interesting question because one of the thingsabout segregation as it existed, and it was ending when I was real young in this 19:00sense, but segregation in American society was so complete that it literally created two separate worlds. And you could be a part of one of those worlds and not have much of a clue as to what was going on beyond its boundaries. I can remember, you know, my mother taking me downtown sometimes when she would go shopping cause after my father got sick we didn't have the use of a car anymore so we would have to ride the bus and so forth. And, you know, all of sudden there are these crowds of these very, very white people. Now, of course again, you know, I had seen white kids at these academic competitions and so it didn't seen unusual to me but you became -- you know, African Americans had to be very much aware of the boundaries because if you guessed wrong about one of those 20:00boundaries you could end up in big trouble, you could end up dead. White Americans didn't necessarily need to be as conscious of that but African Americans did and so to some extent, even in the segregated world, the culture, whether it's the culture of the street or what people talk about in the home, is designed to help prepare you to deal with what you've got to deal with, you know, what do these encounters mean if you have them. And then of course your own experience has to be a way of either refining that knowledge or replacing it, you know, with new information. But it was a different kind of society. I mean, I can remember when my father was sick and he couldn't drive anymore and they got me into Cub Scouts and we'd ride the bus sometimes. And of course, 21:00buses coming out of the West End, back in those days, you went all way down to Shawnee Park. Well, that was white, you know, and so you would have people on the bus, you know, coming out of the deep part of the west end who were white going through the black part of the west part to the east. And so you get on the bus, you know, the folks, you know, they just assume that you're suppose to sit in the back part of the bus or at least not in the front, front part and all that. And, you know, my father was, you know, some of that stuff I didn't pay attention to at the time but, you know, you can always make a point of sitting where you want to sit. And even though he wasn't entirely himself anymore--now my father was not a radical from a political standpoint at all, you know, he's old Mississippi fellow and he had come a long way to just be where he was really--but those kinds of things were commonplace. And of course, as you 22:00became more and more aware of those kinds of things, it was very easy to understand what it was that you were fighting against, the barriers you were fighting to break down.
BRINSON: Do you remember now as a young boy ever trying to resist that inanyway? Now I'll give you an example: The separate water fountains and the separate counters sometimes children especially would test those out a little bit.
HUDSON: Well, I think in my case, it was a matter of timing. I mean Louisvillewas not a big place for having separate fountains and that kind of stuff that you would find in a more obvious sense farther south. By the time I was really old enough to do a lot of traveling around on my own, a lot of that stuff was 23:00illegal. Now I can remember by the time I was in my like middle school, or junior high school, years, might have been the summer of 1963, there was movie on up town that I wanted to go see. And I always remember the public accommodations ordinance in Louisville had been signed and it as to take effect the Monday, 'cause I was up there on a Saturday, it was going to take effect two days later. And uh, you know, I walked up to the ticket office and the woman would not let me in the theater. But that was about it. The opportunities really weren't there. Now I can remember when we had the demonstrations here in like Sixty, in the winter of Sixty-one, the Nothing New for Easter campaign; and I remember wanting very, very much to participate in that. I had an older 24:00cousin who was involved in some of that. And I think by that time, you know, many of us were beginning to get a sense of what a movement was and that this was something that was important to relate to. But generally, my life was pretty much contained in, you know, in the bowels of the west end, of Louisville's black community; and when I went outside that it was usually under conditions that were pretty, pretty well controlled, so--
BRINSON: Okay. What year did you graduate high school?
BRINSON: Sixty-seven? Okay, and then what? What happened to you after that?
HUDSON: Well, came out here to U of L. I had taken classes at U of L inSixty-six and Sixty-seven and enjoyed it. Of course, with me being an only 25:00child -- the decision to come here was an interesting one. I had thought a lot about going elsewhere. I'd had a lot of offers with this Merit Scholarship business to ( ) 'cause I could have taken that where I wanted to. But I decided to stay here. The man after whom this building is named, Woodrow Strickler, who was then the Executive Vice President of U of L actually recruited me directly; had my mother and me into his office--of course, my mother was sold right at that point--and so I came here after I graduated from Male. And initially, I was leaning very much in the direction of the sciences. Of course, I was still writing and I'd become very interested in history based 26:00on the classes that I took here as a senior. And it's in my freshman year as I look back on it, I made a number of decisions, you know. One of those decisions was that I wanted to major in history and not in physics and I don't think I've taken a math or physics class since then. I keep up with some of that in terms of the journals and magazines but I --you know, it was thirty years ago so it's only so serious I can be right now. And I think I began to, to get a lot more focused in terms of black nationalism and movement related issues. I'd had some involvement with the open housing period here and, of course, that was a real interesting period. I was in high school when that was going on. And -- 27:00
BRINSON: And was your mother at that time working for the city?
HUDSON: Well, she was working for -- yeah, she was -- oh yeah, she worked formunicipal housing and by then I guess mother was --she had become a project manager by then.
BRINSON: How was that for her with you being active out there for open housing --
HUDSON: Well, she --
BRINSON: Or whatever because as I recall --
HUDSON: The real activism came at U of L but the open housing stuff was more--was more--it wasn't anything that led me to going to jail, I mean going to a meeting here, a meeting there. There were others who were much more involved that I was, I was just involved to some extent. You know, my mother and my grandmother I think were always -- always had mixed feelings about that. You know, they supported and my grandmother definitely supported, you know, me 28:00trying to stand up for what I believed in, but they also were very concerned that if you go too far, you can get your legs chopped off. And it's not always easy to figure out where that point is, you know, in terms of how far you can or can't go. So there was always this kind of push and pull. And of course, quite frankly, I mean I was always determined to do exactly what I wanted to do. That made for an interesting family 'cause my--I guess, I was about as hardheaded as my grandmother. Now my mother was sort of in between, she was the one who was not as -- who would not be as unyielding as my grandmother and I could be; so she ended up getting sort of pulled in a couple of different directions at times, I think, but --
BRINSON: Now, as you know, I've interviewed your mother, Lillian Hudson.
HUDSON: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
BRINSON: And I remember her telling me that, I believe, you had when you29:00finished high school, you had an AFL-CIO scholarship --
HUDSON: That was the company sponsored the Merit Scholarship.
BRINSON: And that you were looking at the University of Michigan among otherplaces --
HUDSON: Michigan State.
BRINSON: That you -- why did you elect to stay here in Louisville?
HUDSON: Well, part of it was family, part of it girlfriend, part of it -- youknow, as I look -- I think a lot of it was family. I mean one of the consequences of the circumstances of my early life, you know, the age of my parents when I was born; what happened to the men in my family; was that whether I liked it or not or whether I wanted it or not, there's been a degree 30:00responsibility for the older folks in my immediate family that, that just been there. There hasn't been anybody else to do that. And it didn't always mean that there was an active involvement but it's a lot easier when you're close. And so I think all those things together and probably there was something else, too, Betsy. I didn't think it made any difference, I mean to be honest with you. I really didn't think--I probably had a greater breadth of knowledge when I was eighteen years old that I do now.
HUDSON: You know, the areas in which I have specialized--and I'm probably morespecialized in more areas that you'd normally find--which is one of the reasons 31:00why I like being in a multi-disciplinary department like this 'cause I can do history, I can do social science, I can do education--but, and I can still write poetry on my own time. But, you know, even with the breadth of what I deal with now was not like it was when I was eighteen years old. Primarily because there was no way I could -- I probably lost more in terms of what I knew in science and math than, I've gained in some of the other areas. So, you know, when I was eighteen years old, you know, my attitude basically was--I mean you know--give me a little quiet time and a good library, and I'll learn no matter where you put me. And my attitude still is basically like that. So having, you know,
BRINSON: Having a degree from a prestigious university --
HUDSON: Aw, it didn't mean anything to me.
BRINSON: Didn't mean anything to you?
HUDSON: No, it didn't mean anything. And, I mean, I faced that same issue whenI decided to work on my doctorate. And of course, I had some of the same 32:00concerns 'cause by then I was married, plus my mother and grandmother were older than they'd been before. My mother was about ready to retire and my grandmother was very old by the time I went away to school. You know, she was in her early nineties, you know, when I was working on my doctorate.
BRINSON: And you did that at the University of Kentucky?
HUDSON: At UK, yeah. At UK.
BRINSON: But that required a residential period ( )?
HUDSON: I was down there for about a year but really just part of the week.I'd be down there about five days and I'd come back here on the weekend and that worked fine. But, you know, I had, I had a lot of--I could have gone to Harvard again, I mean just like I could have gone coming out of high school. And, you know, I've gone back and forth up there over the years to work on different projects and go to conferences and all that but it's no big deal.
BRINSON: So you came to the University of Louisville as an undergraduate in 1967?
HUDSON: Nineteen sixty-seven on a full-time basis, yeah.33:00
BRINSON: And at what point did you begin to get involved with the Black Student Union?
HUDSON: Well, BSU sort of developed in a couple of stages. The kind ofproto-BSU stage was in sixty-seven--sixty-eight. And when there were a lot of folks who were generally supportive of what was going on in the larger national movement which had become pretty nationalistic then. You know, Black Power was the word of the day. But we hadn't figured out what to do organizationally with that yet. King's assassination I think, had--had a catalyzing effect. And so by the time everybody came back in the fall of sixty-eight, there was pretty 34:00strong determination not only to be organized but to do some stuff, you know. And, you know, black student unions all over the country were doing a lot of different things. And, of course, so we didn't see ourselves as being isolated, we didn't see ourselves as being leaders or followers in the sense. But in a sense, we perceived what we were doing as just sort of the Louisville -- Louisville version or Louisville branch of a much larger, larger movement. And --
BRINSON: Let me just stop and ask --
BRINSON: How many black students were on campus at that point and how many ofthem do you think were active in BSU?
HUDSON: Well, active numbers I can tell you. We probably had twenty to thirtyactive people. And maybe half of that when it came down to folks who were really willing to take some sort of risk. And then on campus, there would have 35:00been maybe -- well, there were several hundred African American students. Now a lot of them came out here at night and so they were kind of an invisible population to many of us but they were here.
BRINSON: Somewhere I have a two percent of the total student body kind ofnumber --
HUDSON: Yeah, U of L had about ten thousand students then, and you would havehad a couple of hundred--a few hundred that would have been black. So we were not a majority but we had a pretty broad base of support in some ways. But one of -- a couple of things that I guess that were very important for me during that period, that in a sense sort of shaped a lot of my later work. One, I became editor of our newsletter which was our propaganda sheet; I was really doing some of this late in the year before. And the other, I became the head of 36:00the tutoring program for BSU; because we set up little tutoring centers in different parts of the west end and we sort of rotate through those. We had somebody from the Admissions Office that helped pay us for doing some of that. And, but what that did for me--'cause I was about the youngest person in the organization--there was a lot of folks like Jerry Neal and some of them were like, you know, four or five years older than me. But I think it helped establish the link between political activism and working in a real tangible sense for a constructive social change. That you got to do more talk about the ways in which a society should be changed, you've got to get involved in changing it. And learning how to do that 'cause it's easy to say what somebody else ought to do but it's not that easy to get the knowledge base and the skills 37:00that are necessary to make those changes happen yourself. And that was a very good experience. Now, of course, we got, you know, progressively more radical. We developed a proposal during the fall of sixty-eight, and it was presented in early March of sixty-nine. Recruitment proposal we called it, but it had a little bit of everything in there including the creation of this department. And a lot of things that are around even now, which is something that when some of us still get together, you know, we really take a lot of pride in that because in some respects I think we were a lot more forward looking that many of our contemporaries were largely because so many of the things that we envisioned, you know, really did have a niche, they really did have a purpose. 38:00And again, PAS is still here, the Office of Minority Affairs is still here, you know, so there are some things that lasted thirty years oddly enough. And, of course, the great irony of all is for me to end of working in this setup after all these years.
BRINSON: And be the Chair of the program --
HUDSON: Yeah, yeah, I never would have thought that would have happened. But --
BRINSON: But let me ask you though in terms of other black student union groupsat other Kentucky or Indiana or Ohio, was there any sort of a network there that you --
HUDSON: Well, not, not exactly. I mean, you had -- in the earlier days you hadgroups SNICK that had a kind of unifying force but by then SNICK was in fragments. Once the whole black power issue came up, SNICK split, you know. And then you had the Stokley faction and then everybody else, and so SNICK in a 39:00way just sort of dissolved. The Black Panther party was becoming, you know, very well known at that time but the Panthers were never strong here. Panthers tended to be strongest in areas that didn't have strong pre-existing organizations. Areas that had fairly strong organizations there to begin with tended not to have real strong Panther chapters. And Louisville was one of the areas where there was a lot going on so the Panthers were here but they were never a real force here. But -- when you get right down to it, you know, a movement is more like a network, a more loosely defined network than it is a big formal organization with dues and bylaws and a building and that kind of thing. In Kentucky, there wasn't much going on outside of Louisville quite frankly and 40:00so part of what we did as a BSU was--we tried--was to try to start BSUs on other campuses. And we traveled around the state to Eastern and Western and UK and places like that and we --
BRINSON: And Berea I think had one, too.
HUDSON: Yeah, went to Berea. And we tried to plant BSUs in the high schoolslocally around here and all that. And that was fun. There was -- we had a couple of folks down at UK who got very involved, Mike Bernard, Benny, and some of them. God, I can't remember all the names anymore.
BRINSON: Bill Turner?
HUDSON: I'm sorry?
BRINSON: Bill Turner, was he? Remember that name at all?
HUDSON: Bill Turner? I'm not sure if he was one that group or not. But they-- there was a group that got accused of trying to fire bomb a library or some building down there, maybe the same year we all got put out of school here. And 41:00that's the group that probably identified most closely with the politics that sort of drove us. Anyway, we presented this proposal the early part of March, and they--we got into about a six-week negotiation cycle with the administration and negotiations. They always break down eventually 'cause we kept sort of upping the ante--and--but in the end they broke down over the issue of who would be the Director of the Office of Black Affairs. You know, the University gave us a fair amount of ground so we knew that some good things were going to happen anyway and that negotiation process was fascinating. One of the things that I did for the organization, along with dealing with the newspaper and the tutoring program, was to help sort of design our negotiation strategy. And I've always 42:00told people over the years that some of what we did in BSU taught, I think, all of us a lesson that we couldn't have learn anywhere else and that was how power works, not that we had it, but how power works because, you know, its -- and what you can to do make power to respond to you and what can happen if you miscalculate sometimes, too. But it was really interesting, interesting experience for someone who was nineteen years old to have. But negotiations broke down over who the director was going to be, you know, we took the next step which was, you know, to take some illegal action on campus. We did a number of things.
BRINSON: I want to ask you about that but what had the University agreed to at43:00the point that the negotiations --
HUDSON: They had agreed to establish an Office of Black Affairs, they hadagreed to, I think, to create the collection in the library, they had agreed to what we call the Martin Luther King Scholarships. Now we were still haggling over how many but they'd agreed to create a fair number. That's still around as a matter of fact. But the issue of who would be the director of the office, we wanted Sterling Neal to be the director, they had somebody else in mind. Now the person they had in mind was our third choice and -- a man named Hanford Stafford. Stafford has his doctorate from UK now but he was a student in our history department. And I had worked with Stafford in a Community Action Commission job I had back in the summer of sixty-eight, and Stafford was okay 44:00but we wanted to have our own director. And of course, Sterling was one of the members of the group. Sterling, you know, Sterling was about in his late twenties then, he had his masters' degree, the whole nine yards, so he was qualified for it but they didn't want any part of that so that's where things broke down.
BRINSON: Why do you think they didn't like him?
HUDSON: Well, I think they were afraid that he would just be too difficult tocontrol basically; that he would be more an extension of us than an extension of them, which is probably true. And I'm not sure that would have been a bad thing but people thought it would have been a bad thing. But anyway, we, you know, we had held a couple of different kind of demonstrations out here and we disrupted the campus to some extent and in some other ways, too. And first day, they, you know, we took over the President's office, yeah, took over the President's office. And we were able to negotiate kind of like a temporary with the 45:00President at the end of that day. Still had the same demands and, of course, I did all the press statements and all this kind of stuff. Most of the press releases, which is interesting working with the media is an interesting thing to do and it worked out well for us to do that, you know, to have one person that the media typically would deal with. But, you know, we had -- you know, we put some new stuff back on -- the same stuff back on the table, the University moved a little bit but they didn't move far enough. So the next day --
BRINSON: Did you have any curriculum issues in all of that?
HUDSON: Oh sure, that was all -- all of that was part of the proposal.Creating department like this, a full-fledged black studies curriculum. But we 46:00were very specific about wanting a Pan-African Studies Department then. Not an African American Studies Department but a Pan-African Studies Department and this to some extent had to do with the way some of us were coming to look at Africa and the Caribbean. It was, you know, real elementary at the time but it was an important respective to have. So, oh yeah, we had some big curriculum issues, student issues, the whole deal --
BRINSON: I thought that ( ).
HUDSON: Academic culture issues. There were some control issues. We wanted tohave five black people on the Board of Trustees. We wanted to establish university centers in all the War on Poverty target areas in the west end. That was a whole stuff involved in that. And the second proposal we did which was the one--I wrote the second one entirely myself--this was the one that had much more of a community focus because there was everything in there from a black university to black day care centers to everything else. And we actually had a 47:00building that the University gave us a down payment on after we got kicked out of school. They gave Bob a check -- Bob Martin a check for a thousand dollars as a down payment on this building trying to--hoping we'd just go away some place. The problem was we didn't have anyway to keep--you know--keep the building up or keep programs going but that comes a little bit later --
BRINSON: That's what you were --
BRINSON: Okay. Yeah, okay I'll ask you then.
HUDSON: But anyway, once we came back the second day -- the first day wedemonstrated was April 30, 1969. Then May 1, 1969, we came back and took over the building that was the Dean's--Dean of Arts and Science's Office, and if you go north on campus where Parish Court is now is where that building used to be. 48:00They tore it down years ago; we took that over the second day. And of course that was the day the police ended up breaking in, and we all ended up going to jail and the whole deal. And the week after that, there was a kind of, almost a star chamber hearing out here and we were kicked out school, most of us were kicked out of school.
BRINSON: Had the hearing and the court actually happened before the hearing happened?
HUDSON: There was--well, there was a hearing, we'd been found guilty but wewere out on bail on appeal. All that happened real fast and the case itself didn't go back to court again until the winter of 1970. Now we had one person who got arrested with us who had no business being in that building. She--Lord knows why she was there--but she, you know, she testified--said some interesting 49:00things about Bob; at least she didn't say anything interesting about me. But she wanted to claim that we forced her to stay in the building which was not true. But to make a long story short, it turned out that by the time that we did go to court, if they had--there were a million different laws they could have charged us with violating and we were guilty of those. But the one they charged us under was this anti-riot act that they had passed in Kentucky right around that time, a year or so before that. And under the provisions of the anti-riot act, the police had not done what they were suppose to do. In other words, they couldn't make it stick so ironically we got off, and we were prepared to go to jail. It was a weird little feeling but, you know, but we were all making our preparations, well, you know, we were going to be in jail.
BRINSON: What were the police suppose to have done under the statute?
HUDSON: Well, a couple of things. One, there has to be some kind of50:00announcement or notification that, you know, they have to give you some kind of notice to stop doing whatever it is you're doing, and vacate the premises or whatever. And they hadn't done that. And even some of their own people testified that they didn't hear this man say anything about all that stuff; all they saw was just people bust out the door. It was a technicality and that's all it was. But I've always felt that they manufactured the technicality, they didn't want to keep that going. What's interesting about that though, Betsy, is that the person in a way who helped us make our case, 'cause we were represented by people from Legal Aid, oddly enough, John O'Mara, Dennis Bricken, who's still around here in Louisville. They came out here one day down to the BSU office over in the old student center and just asked if they could represent--asked if we had representation, which we didn't. And, you know, said they would be 51:00willing to represent us and they did. But interestingly enough, when we went to court the first time right after we were arrested; the person who helped us make our case more than anybody else was a District Attorney and that was J. Earl Deering. Old Republican Mr. Deering. But Deering was black, and he was the one that questioned us; and since he saw that we didn't have competent representation at the time, Deering brought out in his questions the issues that eventually got us off. And it, you know--and I told his wife this because he's been dead a long time--but I always had a tremendous amount of respect for him for doing that because that was his way. And you could tell the judge and them knew what he was doing, and they were just seething but it was within his right 52:00to do that. And he put all the stuff on the record that needed to be on the record that would eventually get us out of going to jail. We had a lot of weird stuff like that. You know, my mother had to put her house up to get all of us out of jail as I'm sure she probably told you. And there was just a lot of that.
BRINSON: Actually she didn't tell me that. She told me that you had a familyrelative, a cousin, who was a bondsman who put up the bail for all of this but she didn't tell me how she secured the bond.
HUDSON: Well, she had to put the house up. Yeah, she had to put the house upand oh, yeah, that's what got us all out of jail.
BRINSON: Who was arrested? Can you give names and something about them?
HUDSON: Well, I can give you the -- I think I can remember everybody. Theperson I was closest to was a man named Bob Martin, Robert Martin. Bob's a 53:00physician now, he works in Hawaii. Bob and I were as close as brothers, still are really, you know, we see each other a couple of times a year even now. We used to call him Wild Bob back in those days, though, he was a wild character to say the least. When Bobby was there, he was sort of like or minister of defense you might say. The woman who decided she was being held there by force was a woman named Sharon Clark. Sharon would regret that most of the rest of her -- well, I don't know happened to Sharon, but I know she went through a lot of changes after that.
BRINSON: She still in Louisville?
HUDSON: I have no idea. I haven't seen her for years. Renalda Meeks was inthere, Reginald Meeks older sister. Reni was our resident little black hippie, interesting lady, good people. A fellow named Phil Farris who was Reni's boyfriend at the time.
BRINSON: Farris, F-a-r-r--54:00
HUDSON: Don't know what happened to Phil. Phil was into kind of a littlecounter-culture thing, too. You had, let's see, a fellow named Ed and Sandford and, God I'm trying to remember if Edna Green was in there. Had a couple of students, Alvin Bikes and Omar or Henry Williams was in there. Omar didn't get arrested 'cause some of the people walked out, and those of us that we made them carry us out; as they cleared the way, they pushed some of the earlier folks into the crowd and Henry got away. I remember seeing Henry disappear into the distance as they were putting the rest of us in the paddy wagon. I can find 55:00out. Some of those folks I haven' seen for a while --
BRINSON: That's enough. Your the only the name I've ever heard --
HUDSON: Oh yeah, but there were a number, there were about ten peoplealtogether. And then people like Jerry Neal and Claude McCullin and some of the rest were out in front on the steps of the building. They didn't get arrested because they weren't breaking the law but they were out there. And even just about all the black athletes at U of L--'cause there were a bunch, you know, real crazy whites who wanted to break into that building--and a lot of the big, black football players and those folks sort of formed a little line in front of the building. So they weren't in the building but they had a sense and part of what were doing.
BRINSON: How long were you inside before the police arrived?
HUDSON: We were in there a few hours, several hours. I forget just how long itwas now; it was long enough time, though. I spent most of my time in there 56:00'cause we had to write press statement and all that stuff so I did that. And mainly tried to -- you know, we had some younger students in there that I had to try and calm down so Bob's job was to guard the door and all that kind of stuff, and my job was kind of to try to keep some sort of order with everybody else inside. We had people stationed around campus and stuff, on top of buildings and things just to let us know what was going on. There was suppose to be a lot more people there that day. Most folks don't realize that the Dean's office, or the Dean's building of A & S was not our goal. We had planned to take over the whole student center that day, but there were a lot of folks who, and some of the community groups that we had alliances with, that never showed up. Now we found out that the police were picking these people up all over town. So we had 57:00an informant; we never did -- I think I know who it was but we never could prove it for sure but I'm ninety-nine percent sure I know. So there was an informant, I mean somebody, you know, let the police know what our plan was, because when it came down to it we just didn't have enough people to take control of a large building like the student center. But we did have enough people we thought to take control of a smaller building like this one, so that's how we ended up there but that was not our original plan.
BRINSON: Tell me about the press coverage. How much was there, was itsympathetic, was it oppositional or-- .
HUDSON: There was a fair amount of it that I think was pretty sympathetic. Wemanaged, I think, not to cross certain lines. As I look back on it, we kept our 58:00focus on issues pretty well. So you didn't get into the personality and name-calling kind of stuff. We got called a bunch of them but we didn't get into that a lot ourselves. Our agenda was a pretty radical agenda but, you know, our methods were not unusual for the time. I mean, you know, there was some of us who went around armed at various times, but we had sense enough not to take arms into that building because we would probably still be in jail right now or be in a graveyard. But, you know, we always saw that you sort of escalate gradually so we had a fair amount of support --
BRINSON: From the Louisville Courier, Courier-Journal, or-- .
HUDSON: The Courier, I think, their reporting was pretty well balanced. Iwouldn't say they went out of their way to wave a flag for us but as I can 59:00recall, the Courier and some of the local TV. stations were pretty well balanced. I mean they let us get our message out the way we wanted to get it out. And that didn't always make people happy but it did come through the way we wanted it to. And in some ways, the coverage then was better than the kind of coverage you get now particularly when you look at the broad spectrum of ideas that was on the table. But anyway, after we got arrested and all that goes down --
BRINSON: I'm going to stop you just a minute and change --
BRINSON: We were talking about the media coverage and I wondered what about thestudent newspaper. Was it called the Louisville Cardinal then?
HUDSON: Cardinal, Louisville Cardinal.
HUDSON: It was pretty good. We had a fairly liberal editor and some writers60:00and they probably covered a lot of things that the local press didn't cover. I used to have some copies of some that old stuff. They would certainly print most of our press statements which was nice. But the campus was a lot more liberal then, too. While you did have your typical little young Republican group out here, there were a fair number of folks on campus who were, you know, SDS type characters; so we had a fairly broad base of support among that liberal to radical group of whites. And, of course, many of them hung around--hung around us a lot. And some of them, you know, are pretty good friends. We--of course there was one white person got arrested with us, you know. He insisted on, you know, he wasn't in the building with us but he--I forget his name right 61:00now--but he got arrested and --
BRINSON: He just wanted to be arrested in support of what you were doing?
HUDSON: He was doing his own demonstration right out in front of the building.So you had some of that, you know. Louisville was never a real liberal city, not now, wasn't then. But Louisville's always had a segment of its population that's been pretty progressive, so that's been good news for people coming from other parts of the country with kind of progressive politics and so forth; because they could link up that segment of Louisville's community. They could feel pretty comfortable. But the overall community as been generally conservative in spite of that. But we had a fair amount of support, I mean this is where I got to know people like Susie Post, this is where I got to know 62:00people like Ann and Carl Braden, when --
BRINSON: You mean out of this whole incident?
HUDSON: Uh-huh, yeah. Oh yeah. Well, and see beyond a certain point after wegot arrested and expelled from school, you know, it was illegal for me to come back on U of L campus for a period of time --
BRINSON: Yeah, I wanted to hear about what happened when you got expelled.
HUDSON: So, and so to continue to print things we wanted to print and do thatkind of stuff, we used the printing facilities that Ann and Carl had. And you sit down there and end up talking about stylivism with Carl; which was always an interesting conversation but you know their son's a year younger than I am so I knew Jimmy at Male. And, of course, you know, like I said we've known each other for a long, long time. We go back more than thirty years. And again, Susie Post was one of the people that contacted me after, you know, a lot of 63:00this stuff blew up and essentially just offered her support.
BRINSON: Through the ACLU?
HUDSON: Well, and just personally. ACLU and just personally. So I'd say we goback a long way, too. And there are others, Pat Delahanty, there are some of the folks in the Catholic Church because my mother became a Catholic as I'm sure she told you after I got out of high school. But that sort of progressive white community in Louisville was very supportive and --
BRINSON: Now were all of you expelled?
HUDSON: No, not all. There was a sense of who the ringleaders were. You know,Bob an I were the main ones that that kind of got as close to a death penalty as you can get. Some folks got back in in the Fall and we essentially were able to come back to school in the Spring of 1970. There was a big hassle over the 64:00courses I was enrolled in the semester that I got kicked out of school. And I think all those grades eventually turned into "W's" except one and that was in a philosophy, it was an ethics class interestingly enough. And John Floodstrom who has just retired out here a couple of months ago--John insisted on giving me an "A" in that class. It was real interesting so -- but there was some support on the faculty and even Strickler. President Strickler was a classic example of an essentially liberal and well-meaning man, who was in a situation that forced him to act against, I think, some of his instincts. You know, Strickler was in the process of trying to negotiate U of L's way into the state system, which 65:00meant that Strickler was getting Kentucky politics all over him which is not always a good way to stay clean. And, of course, UK had its own idea about role U of L should have in the state system at that time. Strickler was able to pull it off but Strickler had to deal with the fact that Kentucky had a very reactionary Governor at that time, Louie Nunn. So he had a real interesting problem to try to solve and, of course, we didn't make it any easier for him. But he and I remained on friendly terms interestingly enough. He even gave me some financial aid, helped me get back in school.
BRINSON: When you were expelled, Blaine, did you think that you would just sitout and come back here, did you think about going back --?
HUDSON: I never thought I'd come back here --
BRINSON: Going somewhere else or --
HUDSON: I never thought I would come back here. And honestly, I think deep66:00down inside I always felt that I would complete my education, but I was looking at a lot of options. You know, one of those options obviously was, you know, a more full-time involvement in the movement. Of course this was the period of time when the movement itself begins to unravel, and there wasn't going to be anything to be involved in full-time before long. And that became a problem in a big way for the next couple of years when I was in that period of my life. There was at time in the early seventies when the movement as we thought of it was pretty much in shambles. Then I thought very seriously about going to Africa. A friend of mine and I thought very seriously about trying to move to Tanzania, 'cause I always had a lot of respect for Nyerere and what he was trying to do, African socialism, the whole deal. But, you know, it's the same 67:00battle wherever you go, and you can always fight that battle close to home; but it was a very attractive idea given where the country was going then.
BRINSON: I believe you lost your scholarship, though --
HUDSON: Oh sure, yeah --
BRINSON: As a result of all this even though I think I recall your mothersaying that you got a very nice letter saying they supported you but they couldn't --
HUDSON: Oh yeah.
BRINSON: Support you financially. But --
HUDSON: After --
BRINSON: Was that a consideration though for you as you were thinking aboutwhere to go next?
HUDSON: I didn't think about that at all. If I had to look back on the coupleof years that sort of contained that period, those issues were not really the uppermost issues on my mind, you know; movement related things played a 68:00significant role, a lot of personal stuff, you know. There have always been several women in my life--at least in those days it was--so dealing with that was always interesting. Interesting probably too tame a word but it was fun. That was always an issue. My poetry, you know, I saw myself making an impact in a different kind of way. And I got older and as it became clear--let me go back, maybe I should do it this way--for someone who was nineteen, almost twenty years old the day we walked out of court in the spring of sixty-nine, most of my life had played itself out against the backdrop of the civil rights era; and 69:00then the immediate aftermath of that. I mean, through my whole, all of my experience had been rooted in the time when this nation, however grudgingly was making progress in the area of race, now of course I can look back now and understand that around sixty-six or so that progress stopped. But, you know, there was no reason to believe that in sixty-eight or sixty-nine that that was as far as we would get; or that some of the other ways in which American society needed to change would not actually happen. But we look back now thirty years later and realize that's as far as we ever got on many of those issues. But I think what a lot of us dealt with then -- we were prepared to live in a very different kind of world. Certainly the people in my generation, you know, I was 70:00not old enough to have been shaped by segregation. My emotional and my psychological makeup was not a part of that. Now I know people only a few years older than me who are still trying to deal with that, you know. And they have a hard time admitting it but they're still trying to deal with it. And Lord knows you get the people ten or fifteen years older than me, you know, something about how they look at themselves and the rest of the world got distorted in some cases back then. And some people have taken a long, hard road to try to get that warped part sort of bent straight again. But, you know, to a great extent a lot of people in my generation doesn't have that problem. Our experience was a different one; different from the experience of kids now, who in a sense live in a world that's in some ways more segregated than the one I dealt with when I was a college student out here. So we were prepared to live in a different kind 71:00of world. Now, of course, the problem came in when that different kind of world didn't come into existence. And initially, if you think back--and I've about this a lot over the years--but if you think back, after King gets assassinated, after Kennedy gets assassinated, you know, for a little while people felt, I think, that well if you just try a little harder, push a little harder, you know, go a little farther, that we can get this whole thing back on track. And then it began to dawn on people after Richard Nixon got comfortable in the White House that that wasn't going to do it. That there really was a systematic effort in play to suppress the movement, not to fulfill the movement but to suppress it. And what that did, of course, is leave a lot of us with some real, real nasty choices to make. People who were involved in a lot of that stuff back then, and I'm sure you've talked to others, will tell you that some of the 72:00most interesting material is what people never talk about. All the emotional and psychological turmoil that people went through. How many people got strung out on alcohol, or on drugs or crazy relationships, you know, reactions to the stress, you know. How many people joined the movement for therapeutic purposes, anyway, and there are all sorts of bizarre things that go into this. Well, you know, all the--the worst sides of it, what begins to bubble to the surface in the early 1970s and, you know, you got to the point where you didn't know who you could trust, you know. And of course that brought some of us who had been involved in BSU much closer together because those kind of experiences test you 73:00individually, but they also test the relationships that you have and you know who is going to back you up.
BRINSON: How many of that group though, Blaine, came back to U of L?
HUDSON: Well, Bobby did. Bobby graduated and then went on to Minnesota to gethis medical degree. Jerry Neal eventually finished law school. Of course, I eventually finished. It was some of the younger ones for the most part that got lost, more that anything else the younger people were the ones that, that in a sense, couldn't negotiate that transition. And I could tell you--and I think my mother knows this in kind of a different sense--but there were two or three years when, in a sense, I was really trying to find a direction. And it wasn't that I didn't know what I wanted to, the problem was that there didn't seem to 74:00be anyway to do it or anywhere to do it. And so ultimately this whole, a combination of things began to come together. One was working with kids. And that's why I was saying early, some of my earlier experiences like working as a tutor at Russell, you know, a friend of mine and I organized a tutoring program for other kids in the library when I was in junior high school. I worked for the Urban League as a tutor when I was in high school and, of course, what I did out here. But a lot of those things ultimately turned out to be experiences that served me well. Program development, you know, taking ideas, putting them on paper and making them work in practice turned out to be something that served me well out here in later years. But the notion of doing something tangible, 75:00you know, some kind of work in the real world was, in a sense, where I ended up and slowly that begin to evolve into a kind of another vision of how I could do what I wanted to do but it would take a long time to get fully prepared to do implement that.
BRINSON: I want to go back though to when you were expelled and ask you whatdid you do before you came back to school and how did you feel, how did you made the decision to actually come back here?
HUDSON: Well, I worked for the poverty program, summer of sixty-nine, and thenI worked at Plymouth Settlement House beginning in the Fall. I stayed there until early in the 1970s, but Marsh Jeffery was director, was a good friend of mine, and he hired me as kind of an evening programming person.
BRINSON: Chester Grundy and Ann worked there ( ) weren't they --?
HUDSON: Yeah, Chester and Ann --76:00
BRINSON: Worked there ( ) weren't they --?
HUDSON: Yeah, they were there then. And the CAC work was in the summer, I waslike a Youth Program Director.
BRINSON: CAC, Community Action Council.
HUDSON: Community Action Commission.
HUDSON: Yeah, Commission. And so, you know, I was able to find a dollar or twohere and there. And of course we had what we called the Black Liberation Center, that's the house that I was talking about. It was on Twenty-eighth Street, between Grand and -- what is that -- Grand and Hale, I think. And so we had that and I spend -- my hours were down there in the evening and so I had plenty of time, plenty to do. Of course, we were meeting all the time, going different places, doing things that young people do. ( ) chasing around after women and all that. And there were always plenty of those around, you become--it's almost like being--you had groupies in a way. I mean it was wild, 77:00and Bob and I were the main ones they chased after. Bob was married during all this, too, by the way and I was not. I was supposedly engaged but that was sort of a technicality but, you know, there was plenty to keep you occupied. In the fall, you know, you had the Office of Black Affairs in place, you had this first group of scholarship students out here. The main reason, actually the main reason why I came back to U of L was very simple. Most of the students they brought in were students we'd organized from these BSU's and the students wanted us to come back. You know they--you know, in some ways we were ready to take the position that--okay, we had done what we were ready to do at U of L, now we want to turn our attention to working on issues in the community; 'cause this is the year we started "Stop Dope Now," you know, when Sterling did, which is one of the most, I think, far-sighted things we ever did. People thought we were 78:00crazy, little did they know. But that's when you first began to notice that the availability of drugs was becoming something very different, right around then. But it's the students who took the position that, you know, that we were being irresponsible you know. You know, you did all this stuff to get us out here and now you're going to walk away and leave us. And so it was not a hard decision to make in the end. It's just one of those things that sort of led naturally from, you know, one point to another.
BRINSON: I wanted to ask you, Blaine, whether there were any other protests tothis degree, particularly that involved arrests and hearings in any of the other Kentucky high ed institutions. Were you a model?
HUDSON: Well, at UK, of course as I said, there was the --I think there was79:00about four people who got arrested for this fire bombing charge around the same time. And then in some other places you had smaller, little flare-ups but probably nothing as far out as what we had here. There were some students at Male High School, Henry, you know, Omar and his group, that they got pretty rambunctious, but K State and some of the other places were fairly quiet.
BRINSON: Tell me what happened at Male High School.
HUDSON: Just a student BSU, a group of kids we'd organized. They weredemonstrating, I forget what the issue was, might have been curriculum. I think there was a trigger incident and they, you know, they were doing demonstrations in school, and some kids got kicked out and the whole deal. And we were able to get them out here on scholarship the next fall and, of course, they were some of the people who were the ringleaders of efforts to hassle the director of the 80:00Office of Black Affairs. That was interesting, too. But there was --
BRINSON: It's rather ironic thought that what you and Bobby and the otherswanted, you've achieved.
HUDSON: Yeah. It's, it really, really is. It has surprised a lot of peoplebut I think a lot of that has to do with the nature of what we were trying to achieve and how we wanted the institution to change. I think that even though what we were trying to do seemed totally out of the box ideologically to a lot of people; it was not impractical from the standpoint of what can be done at an institution of higher education. We were not asking the University of Louisville to do anything that was really hard for it to do. It's the cases 81:00where people were asking institutions to make changes that were very difficult for them to make, given the kinds of institutions they were that had real problems. We were also in a position where, I think, one of our great advantages was the African-American community of Louisville. U of L was one of those institutions that was not way out in the boondocks someplace where as soon as the group of radical students or graduates gets kicked off campus, you know; wait a couple of years and everything that you promised you could renege on. In Louisville, you had a community that has been pretty good at keeping an eye on what's going on out here. You didn't really have that in Lexington. You've got a black community in Lexington but it really has not connection to the university. Doesn't want one most of the time either. But Louisville's different, you know, from the time of municipal college to the basketball, the 82:00football teams and all that. To some extent people have seen--the African-American community has seen itself as having a stake in what happens here. And that was one of our big advantages. And, then like I say, I think by keeping the focus on the issues and on programs and things that did turn out to be constructive. We've been able to make some headway. None of this stuff is finished yet, even thirty years later.
BRINSON: I'm going to stop for now and we will pick it up at some other pointmaybe if we need to.
BRINSON: Thank you. Is there anything else that you want to add?
HUDSON: Oh, I can't think of anything now, Betsy. It's just remembering acrossthirty years in an interesting experience in and of itself now.
BRINSON: There is one other thing I was thinking while you were talking, youmentioned writing poetry several times --
HUDSON: Oh sure.
BRINSON: And I wondered if you were, or how much of a black arts community grew83:00up here with nationalism ( ) in the sixties, were you part of that in any way?
HUDSON: Well, in a way. I've always seen myself, I guess, my primary identityhas more to do with my writing than anything else. People who've know me for a long time know that, but it's not something that comes up that often anymore because I don't have a chance to do much of it anymore. But there was a -- Louisville's has a history of producing a number of pretty good black artists, painters, musicians, a writer here and there. When I was a freshman, Robert Haydon, the poet, was the Bingman Professor here, like a visiting professor in residence. And I had a freshman English teacher, who's still out here as a 84:00matter of fact, who showed him some of my poetry 'cause she and I were -- she like my poetry and she was--you know, helping me publish stuff. And she showed him some of it and we did a poetry reading together. You know, it was really one of the high points of that period in my life and, you know, one of the things during all these periods when there was so much turmoil going on was I wrote a lot. So that filled a lot of time, too, I mean there was a period in there when I had time enough to really concentrate and do some plays and that kind of thing. So I published a little bit then, much of this material I didn't really publish until years later. And it's interesting, one of the last promises I made my grandmother was that I would start publishing my poetry again 'cause I'd stopped for a long time. I didn't stop writing it but I stopped publishing it. And from, oh, maybe about eighty-eight until ninety-two, when I 85:00moved here back to teaching full-time again, I'd published, oh God, hundreds of pieces of them. And it's interesting 'cause most of it was twenty years by then. But there was still a market for them.
BRINSON: What sort of mediums were you publishing --
HUDSON: Different poetry magazines, journals, anthologies. And if I ever getback to it, I had a couple of offers to do, you know, collections. But the response was very good. I never published it that close to Louisville because I didn't want to mix apples and oranges, because you need to be clean and clear emotionally to do that stuff. But I published stuff all over the country so I got back into doing it. But that's always been very much a part of how I've operated. And so, you know, I did some writing for some people who were 86:00painters, like my cousin, Fred--Fred Bald. And Bob and some of them -- Bob Douglas and some of them, you know. We use to do things, people would do some art work, and I would do a little verse piece and stuff, you know. But you know, so much other stuff going on you just sort of hit and miss and that kind of thing.
BRINSON: I do have one final question now and it has to do with writing, andthat's about your dissertation --
BRINSON: You finished in 1981. Tell me why you chose the topic that you did?
HUDSON: Municipal college?
HUDSON: Well --
BRINSON: The History of the Municipal College --
HUDSON: Right, Louisville. In a way, it combined a lot of themes that I liked.One of it is historical, and the other that it had an educational focus, and probably the third was that, I think, the municipal college story is a very important story for Kentucky and for Louisville. I had initially had planned on 87:00doing a statistical dissertation, and actually had developed a couple of pieces that were almost dissertation length just through institutional research out here but actually go so -- I got tired of it. And historical research is really my preference so, you know, I sat aside the earlier ideas and got my committee to agree to let me do the historical one and I'm always been glad I did that.
BRINSON: Have you ever thought about publishing it?
HUDSON: Oh, I had offers to publish it after I finished it. And I published acouple of articles out of it and I may get back to doing the whole thing, but I was so focused on doing administrative work back then that, you know; I've 88:00regretted not publishing it to be honest but I just didn't do it then. And I'm into this antebellum stuff now so it will be a while before I get back to that.
BRINSON: Okay, thank you very much.