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Wade Hudson (1946–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1946, in Mansfield, LA; Education: Attended Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, 1964–68. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Baptist.


Office—c/o Just Us Books, 356 Glenwood Ave., 3rd Floor, East Orange, NJ 07017.


Just Us Books, East Orange, NJ, founder and co-owner, 1988–; writer. Formerly worked as a journalist, a music group manager, a publishing company manager, and for civil rights causes.


PEN, Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators, Board of Children's Defense Fund, Authors' Guild, Authors League, Multicultural Publishers Exchange (board member), African-American Publishers, Writers and Booksellers Association.

Honors Awards

Stephen Crane Literary Award, 2002; inducted into Writers of African Descent Literary Hall of Fame, 2003; Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice designation, 2004, for In Praise of Our Fathers and Our Mothers.



(With Valerie Wilson Wesley) Afro-Bets Book of Black Heroes from A to Z: An Introduction to Important Black Achievers, illustrated by wife, Cheryl W. Hudson, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1988.

Afro-Bets Alphabet Rap Song, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1990.

Jamal's Busy Day, illustrated by George Ford, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1991.

Afro-Bets Kids: I'm Gonna Be!, illustrated by Culverson Blair, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1992.

(With Debbi Chocolate) NEATE: To the Rescue, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1992.

I Love My Family, illustrated by Cal Massey, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor) Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1993.

(Editor with wife, Cheryl Hudson) How Sweet the Sound: African-American Songs for Children, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

Five Brave Explorers, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

Five Notable Inventors, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.

(Editor with Cheryl Hudson) Kids' Book of Wisdom: Quotes from the African-American Tradition, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1996.

Black Olympic Champions ("Book of Black Heroes" series), Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1996.

(Editor with Cheryl Hudson) In Praise of Our Fathers and Our Mothers: A Black Family Treasury by Outstanding Authors and Artists, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1997.

Anthony's Big Surprise, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 1998.

Great Black Heroes: Five Bold Freedom Fighters, illustrated by Ron Garnett, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Scientists, Healers, and Inventors ("Book of Black Heroes" series), Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 2002.

God Gave Me, illustrated by Cary Pillo, Abingdon Press (Nashville, TN), 2003.

God Smiles When, Abindton Press (Nashville, TN), 2003.

(Editor) Poetry from the Masters: The Pioneers, illustrated by Stephan J. Hudson, Just Us Books (Orange, NJ), 2003.

Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, illustrated by Sean Qualls, foreword by Marian Wright Edelman, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

The Two Tyrones, illustrated by Mark Page, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

The Underground Railroad, Children's Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Also author of Beebe's Lonely Saturday, New Dimension Publishing; author of stage plays Freedom Star, Macmillan, Sam Carter Belongs Here, The Return, A House Divided …, Black Love Story, and Dead End.


A co-founder, with wife Cheryl Hudson, of New Jerseybased Just Us Books, Wade Hudson has dedicated his publishing company to introducing young readers to uplifting portraits of African-American family life and to the personal stories of inspirational black figures from history. The stories he writes provide subtle self-affirmation for readers, while the books in his "Book of Black Heros" series tell the life of blacks who have excelled in a variety of endeavors. Edited poetry collections, such as Hudson's Pass It On: African-American Poetry for Children and Poetry from the Masters: The Pioneers, also reflect the editor/publisher's commitment by filling a much-needed void in the works available to young students. In School Library Journal Carol Jones Collins described Poetry from the Masters as "an excellent resource" for literature students or middle-graders "just looking for wonderful examples of poetry to read."

One of Hudson's most well-received works, Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans sheds a fresh light on the speeches, letters, essays, and other writings of black Americans, many of which are frequently overlooked in similar anthologies. Praised as an "inspiring and enlightening" collection by a School Library Journal contributor, Powerful Words contains excerpts from over thirty influential works, from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's arguments in Brown v. Board of Education and scientist Benjamin Banneker's commentary to black activist Malcolm X's address before a group of African-American teens and Lauryn Hill's rap lyrics.

In addition to nonfiction, Hudson has also published several story books. One of his early fiction works, Jamal's Busy Day has been praised for its use of a clever conceit that draws parallels between the daily activities of a young boy, Jamal, and those of his accountant mother and architect father. Like them, he gets himself ready for his "work," takes a crowded bus, works with numbers, attends meetings, does drawings, and so on. According to a contributor to Publishers Weekly, the
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story's optimistic message "is that both parents and children can 'work hard' and accomplish much in their respective arenas: all have something to contribute and all work has value."

In 1988 Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley collaborated on Afro-Bets Book of Black Heroes from A to Z, which presents profiles of forty-nine black men and women who have achieved success in the face of adversity and have made important contributions to society. While noting that the facts presented in the book are "uneven," a Booklist reviewer dubbed the work "a useful item for black history collections." Included in Hudson's work are entries on such diverse people as nineteenth-century Zulu warrior king Shaka, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Marshall, boxer Muhammad Ali, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neal Hurston. Some reviewers noted that the book includes hard-to-find information on lesser-known individuals such as sculptress Edmonia Lewis and educator Fanny Coppin, both of whom are often overlooked in reference books.

Hudson and his wife pay tribute to the African American family in the highly praised collection In Praise of Our Fathers and Our Mothers: A Black Family Treasury by Outstanding Authors and Artists. The anthology includes poetry, essays, paintings, photographs, interviews, and memoirs from nearly fifty artists and writ-ers, such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Candy Dawson Boyd, Brian Pinkney, and Walter Dean Myers. Hazel Rochman, reviewing the book in Booklist, called In Praise of Our Fathers and Our Mothers a "fine" work and added that its "tone is upbeat but neither sentimental nor nostalgic…. The design is clear and spacious, and the large-size volume will lend itself to sharing across generations at home, in the library, and at school." In addition, Rochman commented, "This collection may encourage young people to draw on their own family stories." Horn Book critic Rudine Sims Bishop similarly predicted that the book will touch readers "across generations and across cultural boundaries." Bishop noted that "certain themes run through these pieces like ribbons woven through braided hair." The strong fatherly presence woven throughout the collection contradicts the prevailing stereotype of the fatherless black family; the strength of women too is celebrated in stories about mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and aunts. "Even the black church is honored as a metaphorical mother," reported Bishop. "Shared values are also woven through these works, including an emphasis on creating and surrounding oneself with beauty; a high regard for education; the necessity to maintain a life of the spirit; and the need for familial and cultural continuity." The book's contributors "span at least three generations, and while their voices are varied, their works affirm the perseverance of those values across time and circumstances."

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Hudson and his wife founded Just Us Books in 1988, and dedicated themselves to their new business while holding down full-time jobs in the hopes of filling a shortage in black-oriented children's books. "One can never take any image for granted," he commented to Claire Serant in Black Enterprise, referring to the stereotypes that are perpetuated by popular books and other media. "Images, whether in print, film, television, or on stage, are constantly shaping the way we feel and what we think and believe. This is particularly crucial to the African-American community which has been deliberately given negative images of its history and culture. I find it rewarding to help reshape and change those negative images to reflect truth. I think the struggle to present the correct images, the truth, is the most crucial one facing us all."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Black Enterprise, March, 1991, p. 21.

Black Issues Book Review, March-April, 2004, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, review of Poetry from the Masters, p. 25.

Booklist, January 1, 1989, p. 788; September 15, 1995, p. 165; April 1, 1997, p. 132; February 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of Scientists, Healers, and Inventors, p. 1080; February 15, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African Americans, p. 134.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2004, review of Powerful Words, p. 134.

Publishers Weekly, December 6, 1991, p. 71; January 20, 1997, p. 400.

School Library Journal, December, 1988, p. 117; February, 1992, p. 74; November, 1995, p. 90; June, 1997, p. 138; February, 2004, Mary N. Oluonye, review of Poetry from the Masters and Powerful Words, p. 164; October, 2004, review of Powerful Words, p. S31.

Social Education, April, 1992, p. 262.


Just Us Books Web site, http://www.justusbooks.com/ (July 15, 2005).

Additional topics

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