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First black Police Commission President Elbert Hudson dies

LOS ANGELES — A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 28 at Nate Holden Performing Arts Center for Elbert T. Hudson.

A banker, lawyer and civil rights leader, Hudson died Aug. 8 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96.

Born Nov. 16, 1920 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Hudson grew up in Los Angeles. His father H. Claude Hudson was a dentist who entered law school at the age of 45 to fight discrimination and segregation in the city.

Hudson attended public schools, including 28th Street School, John Adams Junior High and Polytechnic High School.

After graduation, he enlisted in the Army and became a first lieutenant with the 332nd Fighter Group known as the Tuskegee Airmen. After the war, he enrolled at UCLA for his undergraduate degree and then earned a law degree from Loyola Law School.

Hudson served numerous leadership positions at the Broadway Federal Savings and Loan Association, a savings institution founded by his father to ensure people of color had access to savings accounts and loans for homes and businesses. He worked as chairman, then chairman/CEO of Broadway from 1959 to 2006, then served as director emeritus until he died.

Hudson was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission in 1963 and in 1966, shortly after the Watts Riots, he became the first black to be elected president of the Police Commission.

After eight years with the police commission, Hudson resigned to become head of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. At the time, he said he felt that he would be more effective serving as an advocate for his community. Hudson served as a board member, then as president of the NAACP “New Careers” Training Center for more than 20 years.

Throughout his life, Hudson was a mentor to numerous young people who would become leaders in Los Angeles County.

“Elbert Hudson was a great man on so many levels,” said family friend Fred Terrell, who Hudson mentored. “He loved the city and his community and made them better through his deeds.”

Hudson was a familiar face in his Lafayette Square neighborhood, where he would often be seen walking down the street at dawn or chatting with the neighborhood’s children. Although he moved in lofty circles, Hudson was equally at home in the barbershop or one of his favorite soul food restaurants as he was at a civic gala.

“The venues might differ,” said his daughter, Karen Hudson Freeman, “but he was the same person wherever he was. He never thought he was better than anyone else.”

Son Paul noted his father “lived a life of giving back: to his country, as a Tuskegee Airman, to his community as an attorney, banker and public servant and to so many more as a mentor, confidant, friend and family member.”

Hudson was devoted to his wife Marilyn Frances Williams, the daughter of noted architect Paul Williams, who he married in 1946. They remained married until her death in 2015.

He is survived by his son, Paul and his wife Brenda Sykes; his daughter Karen and her husband Don Freeman; several nieces and nephews and a multigenerational group of friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be sent to the Marilyn Project at the Ebony Repertory Theater at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 W. Washington Blvd, Los Angeles, 90016.

 

 

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