Fred Hudson

President of Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center

Fred Hudson, the president and artistic director of New York’s Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center, which has nurtured three generations of African-American writers, actors and playwrights, died on Feb. 13 at his Manhattan home. He was 74.

Miami native attended Florida A&M and Howard U. before entering the Air Force and serving in the Korean War. After being discharged, he graduated from the U. of California at Berkeley, studying music and dramatic literature.

When novelist and screenwriter Budd Schulberg started the Watts Writers Workshop after L.A.’s 1965 riots to find and nurture untapped black writing talent, he hired Hudson to run a San Francisco branch of the workshop.

The workshops became a huge success, attracting hundreds of African-American writers. In 1971 Schulberg and Hudson moved to New York and started the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center, now on Manhattan’s West 96th Street.

Over the years Hudson taught hundreds of aspiring writers and the center expanded to include courses in acting, directing, video, film and journalism. Performers like Danny Glover, Garrett Morris, Samuel L. Jackson and S. Epatha Merkerson studied there and acted in plays produced by the center.

Hudson’s greatest personal successes came with the 1974 film “The Education of Sonny Carson,” for which he wrote the screenplay, and the stage play “The Legend of Deadwood Dick,” which played the outdoor festival of Lincoln Center.

He is survived by a brother and 20 nieces and nephews.

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