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Donald Hudson

High school and college football coach and athletic director Donald Edward Hudson was born on November 20, 1929, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, where he participated in football and gymnastics. He went on to play football at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, where, in 1953, he received his B.S. degree in physical education and commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Engineers.

Hudson served his military obligation at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri as a platoon leader for the first eight weeks of basic training. He then spent the next year and a half on the DMZ in Korea, where he served as a first lieutenant platoon leader. After military service, he earned his M.Ed. degree from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Hudson first worked at Lincoln University in the 1950s and 1960s, where he taught in the Health and Physical Education Department and was an assistant football coach, assistant basketball coach, assistant track coach and head golf coach. In 1968, he became the State of Minnesota’s first African American high school head football coach when he was hired at Central High School in Minneapolis.

In December of 1971, Hudson was appointed head football coach of Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, becoming the first African American head football coach at a predominantly white university in the United States in the modern NCAA era. He also served as assistant chairman of the Department of Physical Education and as the men’s head track coach. While at Macalester, he testified before the U.S. Congress on behalf of the NCAA National Summer Youth Program, which he also directed for six years.

Hudson left Macalester College in 1975 and returned to Lincoln University in 1976, where he served as head football coach, head girls track coach, and athletic director for three years. He was later hired as athletic director of Smoky Hill High School in the Colorado Cherry Creek school district, where he worked until 2000.

Hudson was honored for his accomplishments during the half time of a Macalester football game on October 6, 2007. The mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota declared that day “Don Hudson Day” and Hudson was given the keys to the city. In addition, the football offices at Macalester College have been named after Hudson.

Hudson and his wife, Constance, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina. They have six children, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Hudson passed away on September 30, 2018.

Donald Hudson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 12, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.185

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2014

Last Name

Hudson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Edward

Schools

Westinghouse Academy

Lincoln University

Springfield College

Belmar Elementary School

Baxter Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Donald

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

HUD06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

Let's Do It Over Again.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

11/20/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Charlotte

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Bananas

Death Date

9/30/2018

Short Description

College football coach Donald Hudson (1929 - 2018 ) served as the head football coach of Macalester College from 1971. He was the first African American head coach at a predominantly white university in the modern NCAA era.

Employment

United States Army

Lincoln University

Central High School, Minneapolis

Macalester College

Smoky Hill High School, Colorado

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donald Hudson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donald Hudson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donald Hudson describes his mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donald Hudson describes his mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Donald Hudson talks about his maternal family's church band

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Donald Hudson describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Donald Hudson talks about his parents' early relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Donald Hudson remembers his neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Donald Hudson describes his likeness to his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Donald Hudson remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Donald Hudson describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donald Hudson talks about the influence of Don Hutson

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donald Hudson remembers his first football team

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donald Hudson recalls his experiences at Belmar Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donald Hudson remembers Ahmad Jamal

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donald Hudson recalls his football practice routine, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donald Hudson remembers playing football at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donald Hudson describes his experiences of discrimination at Westinghouse High School

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Donald Hudson remembers his positions on the football team at Westinghouse High School

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Donald Hudson describes his social activities at Westinghouse High School

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Donald Hudson remembers his aspirations to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donald Hudson recalls his football practice routine, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donald Hudson remember his football coach at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donald Hudson recalls his recruitment to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donald Hudson remembers his footballs heroes

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Donald Hudson describes his experiences of size discrimination on the football team at Lincoln University

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Donald Hudson talks about his knowledge of football strategy

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Donald Hudson remembers Coach Dwight T. Reed

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Donald Hudson describes his experiences of discrimination in the U.S. Army, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Donald Hudson describes his experiences of discrimination in the U.S. Army, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donald Hudson describes his U.S. Army service in the Korean War

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donald Hudson remembers playing football in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donald Hudson recalls the racial tensions during the Korean War

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donald Hudson remembers becoming an assistant coach at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donald Hudson recalls his master's degree from Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donald Hudson recalls the changes in the football team at Lincoln University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donald Hudson talks about Lincoln University's football league

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donald Hudson recalls being hired as head football coach at Minneapolis Central High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Donald Hudson talks about his search for assistant coaches at Minneapolis Central High School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Donald Hudson recalls his struggle to keep players on the football team at Minneapolis Central High School

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Donald Hudson remembers his early games at Minneapolis Central High School

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Donald Hudson describes his roles at Minneapolis Central High School

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Donald Hudson talks about his experiences at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Donald Hudson remembers coaching the Macalaster College football team

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Donald Hudson remembers recruiting black players for Macalaster College's football team in St. Paul, Minnesota

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

4$1

DATitle
Donald Hudson remembers becoming an assistant coach at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri
Donald Hudson recalls being hired as head football coach at Minneapolis Central High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Transcript
You got out in '54 [1954], right?$$I guess that's right.$$Finished in '54 [1954]. And what were your prospects? What did things look for you when you, when you got out? Where were you going? I think you came to Chicago [Illinois], but how did that ha- well, how did that happen? How did that happen?$$Well, I had a couple of friends, and they had heard--the word had gotten around that I was getting out of the [U.S.] Army, and I didn't have a job. And one of the guys I had asked, I think he's been here. No, he couldn't have been here. I asked him, you know, and he said yeah, he knew of a job. Well, I went over and applied for the job, and this is another job. I went over and I applied for the job, even though that they had, the [U.S.] Army had brought me out to put me in the, you know, the spot, I get the job as director at the OFC--no. I get the job, and lo and behold--as platoon leader, another platoon leader--and what do they do but send me over the--get ready to send me over to Korea again. And in the meantime, we get up a little basketball team and so forth. And I don't know how this happened. They took me out of the baseball team. I can't even play baseball. They took me out of that baseball team and brought me back to the camp. And I guess it was really a few days later that I ended up getting my divor- discharge. I don't know why, don't know how.$$Okay. So that's when you came to the United States, back (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm.$$--back to the states? And, so you worked with George Pruitt, you said, of Washington Park [Chicago, Illinois]?$$Um-hm.$$Okay. And George Pruitt was associated with the Chicago Bears in some way?$$Unh-uh.$$Nope?$$When I was a teacher at Lincoln [Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri] I came to Chicago, and I recruited George Pruitt to play basketball for Lincoln University.$$Okay, okay.$$He turned out to be a very, very great player. And he didn't play with the actual Glo- Globetrotters [Harlem Globetrotters], but he ended up, he did play with the team next to them [Kansas City Steers], whatever that was.$$The Generals, the Washington Generals (laughter)?$$(Unclear) I have no idea. And he, of course, had that (unclear) that little cup they gave him to take out. You know, I don't know what was in it. But anyhow, he played for the Army for three or four years. And I saw him maybe three or four times. He is probably the best guy I ever recruited. Yeah, as a, as an athlete.$$Okay.$$Then he died.$$And, but he played for Lincoln. You recruited him--$$Yeah, for Lincoln.$$--for Lincoln, okay. All right, so, what I was trying to figure out is when you got out of the Korean War--I mean the Army in '54 [1954], did you go back to Lincoln first, or did you go to Chicago? Well, let's just get--well, let's just take you up from Chi- from Lincoln then--$$Okay. I think--$$--when--$$--I went back to Lincoln.$$Yeah, okay. So when you went back to Lincoln you became the assistant football coach?$$Yes.$$All right, okay. All right, but you also taught track, gymnastics, swimming.$$Oh, yeah.$$It's a lot of things, right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$In the interest of our time, I'm going to just ask you about Macalester College [St. Paul, Minnesota]. We're going to get right to this historic time pe- period here. Now you were the head coach at Minneapolis Central High School [Minneapolis, Minnesota] from '68 [1968] to '72 [1972]. And tell us how you found out about the job at Macalester.$$I found out through Bill McMoore [Donald "Bill" McMoore], a friend of mine who lived in Minneapolis [Minnesota] (clears throat). He wrote me and told me that the job was open, and he knew I should--he said, "You should apply for the job." And he said, "They don't have any black coaches in the school except the assistant coaches." And he said, "They're trying to go on the move," so he said, "Why don't you apply?" So I did apply.$$Okay. So this is for the job at--$$At Minneapolis Central.$$Okay. Minneapolis Central, okay, all right. (Laughter) It's like--okay, all right.$$Yeah.$$So, well, tell us about what, what happened in Minneapolis Cen- Central. Were you successful?$$Do you really want to know (laughter)?$$Yeah.$$All right, when I first got to Minneapolis Central, of course, they had me fill out some papers and stuff. And they wanted to know what my experience was and so forth. And for the most part, I had had more experience than any of the coaches that were already there. I had coached something like ten, fifteen years. And they were much less than that. And then I had coached in college against high school, although I had coached some high school ball before I got there. So as the story goes on at Central, they moved a guy up to be the athletic director. He was a very nice guy. And he came to me, and he asked me if I had any coaches that I would be bringing, and I said no. I was just coming myself as the head football coach. So he said, "I'll take you around." And he showed me around and all that kind of stuff. And we finally got down to the nitty gritty there. And I said, "Well, you know, how many coaches--?" They had had something--I think they had ten coaches. I said, "How many coaches will I have?" He said, "None." I said, "What do you mean none?" "They all quit because you got the job." And I said, "Well, can I have maybe--maybe I need to see a superintendent or the athletic director of the city. And here you, you know, here we are with a football, high school football team who's had a very good record, who has been known to have a good record, and all the football coaches on the team quit because you hired me." And, you know, I'd been all over the country, not necess- you know, coaching at different schools and so forth. And, you know, it's not like I don't know what I would be doing. So anyhow, they went a couple of days and said that they would have to check on some things. Make a long story short, I was still the head coach. And they hadn't come back yet. They hadn't made up their mind.