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Fred Hudson, 74, Mentor

Fred Hudson, the president and artistic director of the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center for over thirty years, died last February 13th at his apartment in Manhattan. He was 74. The cause was heart failure, according to Yvonne Hudson, his niece.

The Center, founded in 1971, continues to nurture African-American writers, actors and playwrights.

One of seven children growing up in a small home in Miami, Mr. Hudson attended Florida A&M and Howard Universities before entering the Air Force and serving in the Korean War. After being discharged, he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, studying music and dramatic literature. Mr. Hudson spent most of the next decade writing scripts while working in the university's physics library in Berkeley. However, the Watts riots of 1965 sparked a career shift.

The day after a curfew was lifted after the riots, the novelist Budd Schulberg, author of ''What Makes Sammy Run?'' and the screenplay for ''On the Waterfront,'' started the Watts Writers Workshop in his living room to discover and nurture untapped black writing talent and to help defang negative stereotypes created by the riots. Seeking to expand the program's reach beyond Watts, Mr. Schulberg hired Mr. Hudson to run a San Francisco branch of the workshop.

The idea took off, attracting hundreds of African-American writers whose voices and stories were little represented on the national scene. In 1971 Mr. Schulberg and Mr. Hudson moved to New York and started the Frederick Douglass Creative Arts Center, now on West 96th Street in Manhattan.

Over the years Mr. Hudson taught hundreds of aspiring writers the tricks of the trade, gradually expanding the center 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.

With an encouraging, even-keeled nature, Mr. Hudson taught until the end of his life, shepherding young talent like Kevin Arkadie, who created the television show ''New York Undercover,'' and the novelist Arthur R. Flowers (''De Mojo Blues''). More than 100 books by center alumni were published during Mr. Hudson's 30 years there.

Mr. Hudson found his greatest personal success early on, with the 1974 film ''The Education of Sonny Carson,'' for which he wrote the screenplay based on Carson's autobiography about being a black activist and a central figure in the battle over community control of New York City public schools. As a playwright Mr. Hudson wrote ''The Legend of Deadwood Dick,'' which played the outdoor festival of Lincoln Center, and several plays produced at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference in Connecticut.

In addition to his niece, Mr. Hudson is survived by his brother, Charles, of Miami, and 19 other nieces and nephews.

In an interview last year with the magazine African Voices, Mr. Hudson described his no-nonsense approach to writing. ''Everyone has talent,'' he said, ''if they're willing to work.''