Editorial: When a library burns

By on January 15, 2013

“When an elder dies, it is as if a whole library had burned down.” – West African proverb

There have been few men in the University of Louisville’s roster of deans and professors who have, in their tenure, fostered the type of inspired academic growth as that which was evident in the life and career of the late Arts & Sciences Dean, Dr. J. Blaine Hudson.

In his passing the community has lost a lighthouse of a leader, the university a library filled with staggering experiences.

His legacy is cemented by his monumental contributions to the study of Louisville’s history, and his tireless devotion to building a racially aware Louisville. His work in “Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History” remains a treasury of knowledge about race relations in the city.

Hudson’s leadership was visionary. He served his community in his chairmanships of the department of Pan African studies and of the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission. He also led the educational program, Saturday Academy, and served on a committee appointed to curb West End violence in Louisville.

Faculty, students and leaders in the community all looked to Hudson for guidance and wisdom.

Acknowledgements of his work have come from U of L president James Ramsey, who spoke of Hudson’s contributions, saying that they “will have a lasting impact on generations of U of L students” and from Mayor Greg Fischer who said, “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…”

It is unlikely that this city, much less this university, will ever find a professor and leader with such unique strengths, such profound insights into our shared history, and such devotion to his students as what we found in Dr. Hudson.

The Louisville Cardinal extends its deepest condolences to the family members and community who survive in the tragic passing of this truly great man. We gather ourselves with you under the black umbrella of your grief. We are students who, though left cold by the loss of his light, are still warmed by the magnificent blaze of this library as it burns to the ground.

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Photo courtesy louisville.edu

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