art gallery
contributors subscribe links trumpet fiction back issues exit
For Fred Hudson

By Kermit Frazier

Frederick Douglass . . . Hudson. . . . It hadn’t occurred to me until this week. One of my best friends in the whole world was officially named Frederick Douglass . . . . Hudson. Of course, that never phased him. He was always Fred. Fred Hudson. Writer, teacher, mentor, visionary, quiet yet steady activist. That he was christened Frederick Douglass, with two “S’s” in Douglass, meaning a middle name that was clearly a last name not a first one, seems incredibly insightful and prescient on his parents’ part. For here he was, in his prime, the artistic director and president of the organization he co-founded with Budd Schulberg and of which he was the principal life’s blood, heart and soul, driving force. The Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center. He was the swirling yet deeply focused center of our still all-important Center.

I stayed with Fred a couple of days off and on over the past few months while I was in town for board meetings or to teach a workshop, still living and working out of town then and looking to get back to New York permanently. During those times we talked even more than ever about the state of the world and about writing, and especially about the Center and all of his plans for it, and then about his more serious need to get back to his own writing. For he had over the years sacrificed his own work as a writer to his important work as teacher and advisor and Center director. A sacrifice he never much complained about really. But he was going to get back to his work, he was headed in that direction in his mind even as he saw the need for the Center to both deepen its roots and spread its wings much further than it already had. He knew how to plan, you see. He knew how to structure and supervise. He knew how to put out fires, and even how to discreetly start a few. Provoke, challenge, and maintain. And he always, always knew what constituted a good story. He . . . knew. He just . . . knew. And through that knowing he saw to it that countless others learned to know as well. Gathered, mined knowledge as power. Rigorous artistic creation as necessity. Those, I think, are two of Fred’s strongest legacies. And his ongoing, insistent presence hanging over us and wafting through us, will be the reason that—contrary to the poet Yeats’ famous line—the Center will, must hold.

Frederick Douglass Hudson.

Fred Hudson.

His own name. . . . His own person. . . . And what a person he was!