Note: This original one-on-one interview, part of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky Oral History Project, was produced by the Kentucky Oral History Commission and Historical Society.
Born in 1949 in Louisville, J. Blaine Hudson began his fight for social change in junior high school, when he was refused admittance to a downtown movie theater. Later, as a student at the University of Louisville in 1969, he demonstrated at the school’s 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 the judge forbid Hudson from returning to campus for one year. He also lost his prestigious national AFL-CIO scholarship because of his arrest record, although the organization did send him a letter in support of his position.
Hudson was a long-time history professor and chairman of the Pan-African Studies Department at U of L. He later became dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the very department he protested as a student.
Hudson served on a number of boards and commissions, was chairman of the Kentucky African-American Heritage Commission, and was active in efforts to reduce violence in Louisville. He co-edited the book “Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History,” published by Butler Books in 2011. Hudson died on January 5, 2013.