Ad­vo­cate for black is­sues

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Frank Shy­ong

When the head­quar­ters of the Broad­way Fed­eral Bank in South Los Angeles burned down dur­ing the 1992 L.A. riots, El­bert T. Hud­son knew ex­actly what to do: re­build.

He and his son Paul C. Hud­son reestab­lished the bank, founded by his fa­ther, in a trailer across the street from the ru­ins of the old build­ing.

“We weren’t go­ing to let a build­ing get in the way of the bank’s mis­sion,” Paul said.

El­bert Hud­son, 96, died Aug. 8 at his Los Angeles home.

An out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for black is­sues, Hud­son strove to be an agent of change for his com­mu­nity, his daugh­ter Karen said. Dur­ing his ten­ure as pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of one of the first black-owned banks in Los Angeles, he ex­tended loans and job of­fers to black, Asian and Latino peo­ple who were dis­crim­i­nated against by other banks. He men­tored dozens of black youth and served as the head of the Los Angeles chap­ter of the Na­tional Assn. for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple.

“He was firmly steeped in not only civil rights and com­mu­nity ser­vice, but the idea that for all your bless­ings you have to give some­thing back,” his daugh­ter said.

Hud­son was born in 1921 in Shreve­port, La., the fourth of six chil­dren. He moved to Los Angeles when he was 3 be­cause his fa­ther, head of the lo­cal NAACP chap­ter, was get­ting death threats. He at­tended the 28th Street Gram­mar

School, John Adams Ju­nior High and Polytech­nic High. His child­hood was steeped in the tra­di­tions of the civil rights move­ment. On Sun­days, af­ter church, he helped his fa­ther sell NAACP mem­ber­ships, Karen said.

Dur­ing World War II, Hud­son flew a P-51 Mus­tang as a mem­ber of the Tuskegee Air­men, es­cort­ing bombers on 23 com­bat mis­sions in the Mediter­ranean the­ater of op­er­a­tions. Af­ter the war, he earned an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree at UCLA and a law de­gree at Loy­ola Univer­sity.

In 1963, Hud­son was named to the Los Angeles Po­lice Com­mis­sion, where he be­came an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for the black com­mu­nity. When he was named the first black pres­i­dent of the panel in 1966, shortly af­ter the Watts riots, he did not hide his reser­va­tions about the po­si­tion.

“In view of the present ten­sions and con­flicts that ex­ist in our city today, I am not re­ally sure whether I should thank you for elect­ing me to the pres­i­dency,” Hud­son said in his ac­cep­tance re­marks.

Back then, the names ring­ing out at Po­lice Com­mis­sion meet­ings were not Ezell Ford and Bren­don Glenn but Leonard Dead­wyler and Jerry Lee Arnie, both shot and killed by LAPD of­fi­cers dur­ing Hud­son’s ten­ure.

Hud­son urged the LAPD to learn more about mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties, and also coun­seled his own com­mu­nity against blam­ing po­lice for things they had no con­trol over. He crit­i­cized of­fi­cers for not un­der­stand­ing “the day-to-day op­pres­sion un­der which black and brown peo­ple live.”

He re­signed his post as vice pres­i­dent of the com­mis­sion in 1971 to take a po­si­tion as head of the L.A. chap­ter of the NAACP. Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing his res­ig­na­tion, he ex­pressed reser­va­tions about the di­rec­tion the de­part­ment was tak­ing.

“I could not serve the best in­ter­ests of the Po­lice De­part­ment while serv­ing the best in­ter­ests of my or­ga­ni­za­tion and my com­mu­nity,” Hud­son said.

His fa­ther, H. Claude Hud­son, founded one of the first black-owned banks in L.A. in 1946, and the younger Hud­son took over in 1972.

As pres­i­dent and CEO, he fo­cused less on prof­its and more on de­vel­op­ing mi­nor­ity neigh­bor­hoods, his daugh­ter said. Loans from Broad­way Fed­eral Bank helped es­tab­lish Ward African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church, the Sec­ond Bap­tist Church and the Lewis Metropoli­tan Chris­tian Methodist Epis­co­pal Church and sev­eral black neigh­bor­hoods in South Los Angeles.

His friends and fam­ily re­mem­ber a man of hu­mil­ity and quiet strength who strove to be a role model. He was a highly dis­ci­plined man who woke up for a 5 a.m. walk around the neigh­bor­hood ev­ery day, main­tain­ing the reg­i­men well into his 80s.

Hud­son was a con­sum­mate gentle­man, but never stood on cer­e­mony, “as happy with a hot dog as a steak,” Karen said. He chose his words care­fully, but he was not afraid to raise his voice. He es­chewed a po­lit­i­cal ca­reer and in­stead spent much of his time men­tor­ing dozens of men and women and sup­port­ing the chil­dren in his neigh­bor­hood.

“He was so much to so many,” Paul said. “From war hero to civil rights ac­tivist, from le­gal ad­vi­sor to com­mu­nity banker, from friend to men­tor. But to me, he was ev­ery­thing.”

Me­mo­rial ser­vices have not yet been an­nounced. Do­na­tions in lieu of flow­ers should be sent to the Mar­i­lyn Project at the Ebony Reper­tory The­atre at 4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90016.

Hud­son fam­ily

El­bert T. Hud­son, the L.A. Po­lice Com­mis­sion’s first black pres­i­dent, urged the LAPD to learn more about mi­nor­ity com­mu­ni­ties. ‘SO MUCH TO SO MANY’

Hud­son fam­ily

Dur­ing World War II, El­bert T. Hud­son served in 23 com­bat mis­sions in the Mediter­ranean the­ater. TUSKEGEE AIR­MAN

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