Archie-Hudson, Marguerite 1937–
Marguerite Archie-Hudson 1937–
College president, educator, politician
Any one of Marguerite Archie-Hudson’s careers would be worthy of historical note. Rising from a childhood spent in rural South Carolina at the height of segregation, Archie-Hudson became a respected educational psychologist in Chicago, Illinois, serving for a time at one of the most prestigious primary schools in the United States. Moving on to California, she worked her way up in the educational world and parlayed her familiarity with school issues into an impressive political career. Archie-Hudson then became president of her alma mater, Alabama’s Talladega College, and the first African-American woman to head a four-year collegelevel institution in Alabama history. Finally, Archie-Hudson returned to her home state of South Carolina, teaching political science and lending her expertise to several innovative research efforts.
Marguerite Archie was born on November 18, 1937, on Yonges Island along the South Carolina coastline. Raised by her grandparents, she grew up on a cotton farm with a sugar cane mill and went to classes in a two-room schoolhouse, strictly segregated by race. For two years, however, she was sent to New Jersey to live with her mother, and there she was one of only a few black students. Back in South Carolina, she was named valedictorian of her eighth-grade class. She hoped to attend high school, but the local school system didn’t provide African Americans with anything beyond an eighth-grade education. To continue her education, she moved to live with her aunt in Charleston, South Carolina.
Archie-Hudson excelled academically in Charleston and won a scholarship to Talladega College in Alabama, a historically black school founded just after the Civil War. She graduated with a degree in psychology in 1958 and, facing the continuing exclusion of blacks from graduate programs in the South, she went north for further study. Talladega had a strong science program that prepared Archie-Hudson well for graduate work. She earned a master’s degree in education and counseling from Harvard University in 1962. While at Harvard, Archie-Hudson met and married a U.S. Marine officer named Hudson, whom she later divorced.
Archie-Hudson began working in her chosen field while she pursued her master’s degree. She returned briefly to Charleston, where she worked as a high school guidance counselor. Moving to Chicago, she worked for ten years as a psychometrist, a specialist in psychological measurements, at the Illinois Institute of Technology on the city’s South Side. From 1962 to 1966 she also worked as a counselor at the University of Chicago Lab School, a top private school that educated the children of many of the high-profile professors at the University of Chicago.
Archie-Hudson’s husband’s transfer to California’s Camp Pendleton led her to uproot herself and her career to move to the Golden State in 1966, but she quickly landed on her feet. She ran an Upward Bound program at Occidental College from 1966 to 1968 and then became director of college counseling at Los Angeles’s Locke High School, remaining there until
At a Glance…
Born on November 18, 1937, in Yonges Island, SC; married Hudson, 1960s (divorced). Education: Talladega College, BA, psychology, 1958; Harvard University, MA, education and counseling, 1962; University of California at Los Angeles, PhD, higher education administration, late 1980s. Politics: Democrat.
Career: Burke High School, Charleston, SC, counselor, 1958; Institute for Psychological Services, Illinois Institute of Technology, psychometrist, 1959-69; University of Chicago Lab School, counselor, 1962-66; Upward Bound program, Occidental College, Los Angeles, director, 1966-68; Locke High School, Los Angeles, director of college counseling, 1968-71; office of Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, district staff director, 1972-78; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, staffer, 1978-79; office of CA Assemblyman Willie Brown, staffer, 1980s; California State Government, Assemblywoman from District 48, 1990-96; Talladega College, president, 1998-2001; College of Charleston, political science instructor, 2002-.
Selected memberships: Delta Sigma Theta sorority; State Bar of California; March of Dimes, chairperson; California Museum of Science and Industry Foundation; United Way.
Addresses: Office —College of Charleston, 66 George St., Charleston, SC 29424.
1971 and designing a college-counseling program that was implemented across the Los Angeles school district.
After she served for a year as director of an Educational Opportunities Program at a branch of the California State University system, Archie-Hudson’s range of experience in the education world, and specifically in the area of minority education issues, was recognized by U.S. Representative Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a popular congresswoman who was a trailblazer for blacks in California politics. Burke hired Archie-Hudson as an education staffer and district office director. Archie-Hudson remained with Burke until the latter’s retirement from Congress in 1978, making a host of well-placed political friends along the way.
Working briefly for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Los Angeles, Archie-Hudson signed on with the staff of the powerful California Assemblyman Willie Brown, who later became Speaker of the California Assembly (and still later mayor of San Francisco). Archie-Hudson polished her credentials by completing a doctoral degree in education at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in the late 1980s, holding two counseling and student-retention posts while she worked on her dissertation. By 1990 Archie-Hudson was ready for electoral office herself; she ran for the Assembly seat (in California’s District 48) being vacated by Maxine Waters, soon to be elected to the U.S. Congress. She was elected with 79 percent of the vote and hiked that share to 92 percent in 1992.
Archie-Hudson held the seat until 1996, when term limits forced her to retire. Like Waters, Archie-Hudson (a Democrat) was a strong partisan voice in the Assembly, an advocate for liberal causes not only in the education arena but also in other situations. Archie-Hudson’s was a major voice raised in opposition to the ultimately successful Proposition 209, which outlawed affirmative action in California university admissions and other state-administered programs. After her retirement, Archie-Hudson served on a commission responsible for reforming Los Angeles’s city charter, and she was active as an educational consultant. Some speculated that Archie-Hudson might follow Waters into Congress, but she had other plans.
Having maintained her connections to Talladega’s alumni association and having served for a year on the college’s board of trustees, Archie-Hudson was named the first female prexy (or president) of Talladega in 1998. She was the first woman to lead the school, and the first black woman president of any four-year college in Alabama. Archie-Hudson expressed a desire to make a contribution to the institution that had shaped her as a young woman. “It was here that prepared me for [her educational career],” Archie-Hudson told the Birmingham News. “I just assumed I could do it. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t.”
Archie-Hudson notched some successes in the first months of her tenure at Talladega, boosting student enrollment from 440 to about 540 and making a dent in the school’s $4.3 million debt. As the Reconstruction-era buildings of many historically black colleges began to crumble, Archie-Hudson secured federal funds for the renovation of Talladega’s historic structures. But the dire financial conditions that prevailed at Talladega and at many other small institutions brought Archie-Hudson grief. After reading a book by one of her predecessors, a man who had served as the school’s president a century before, Archie-Hudson mused to the Birmingham News that “the kinds of issues he talked about—not enough money, not enough students, bad pay for the faculty—we could talk about the same things.”
In the fall of 2001, Archie-Hudson was notified that her contract at Talladega would not be renewed. Archie-Hudson had been popular with the school’s students and faculty, some of whom protested the decision. But trustees cited a desire to see Talladega’s leader move more quickly in confronting the institution’s problems. Archie-Hudson, who described herself as stunned, found herself looking for a job.
Nearing retirement age, she could easily have closed her educational career. Characteristically, though, she opened a new chapter instead. Bringing her life full circle by returning to Charleston, where she still had several relatives, Archie-Hudson took a job teaching public policy and public administration at the College of Charleston. In 2003 she was named to the steering committee of the Avery Institute for Social Change, an organization focusing on women’s health care that was founded by MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” recipient Byllye Avery. Archie-Hudson also co-founded the HBCU Foundation, which continued the work she had done at Talladega in the area of financing capital improvements and investment at historically black colleges and universities. There wasn’t an obstacle, it seemed, that could slow Marguerite Archie-Hudson down for long.
Birmingham News, November 23, 1998, p. A1; September 21, 2001, p. C1; September 25, 2001, p. B1.
Black Issues in Higher Education, July 20, 2000, p. 18.
Daily News (Los Angeles), September 25, 1996, p. N15.
Jet, November 2, 1998, p. 40.
Mobile Register, November 29, 1998.
Sacramento Observer, January 29, 1997, p. G11.
StateNet California Journal Weekly, October 24, 1994.
“Who We Are,” The Avery Institute for Social Change, www.averyinstituteforsocialchange.org/who.html (February 12, 2004).
—James M. Manheim
Archie-Hudson, Marguerite 1937–
Marguerite Archie-Hudson 1937–
In 1998 Dr. Marguerite Archie-Hudson was named president of Talladega College. The college’s 17th president, she is the first woman to hold the position. While her multi-faceted career has taken her from a college guidance counselor to a California State Assemblywoman, education has always been her underlying motivation.
Dr. Archie-Hudson’s roots are far from the urban environment in which she has become widely known. Born on November 18, 1937 to an unwed mother who worked as a domestic, she spent her childhood on a farm in Yonges Island, South Carolina that raised cotton and milled the neighbors’ sugar cane into syrup. Her early schooling took place in a segregated two-room school. She then spent parts of sixth and seventh grades in the opposite educational environment, living with her mother and stepfather in Mendem, New Jersey, and attending a school in which she and her siblings were the only African American students. She returned to live with her grandparents in South Carolina part way through the seventh grade and was recognized as valedictorian of her eighth grade class. However, after graduation she had to move in with an aunt in Charleston, South Carolina so that she could attend high school; her local community offered no additional schooling for African Americans.
After graduating from high school, Archie-Hudson accepted a scholarship to attend Talladega College in Talladega, Alabama. Talladega, a private, historically Black, four-year liberal arts college, was founded in 1867 by two former slaves and the American Missionary Association on the grounds of a previous school for white males. Proudly calling itself “Alabama’s oldest integrated black college,” these two ex-slaves, just six years after the abolition of slavery, opened their school with, astoundingly, an interracial charter that decreed, as a matter of principle, never to bar anyone on the basis of race, creed, or color. This strong tradition remains vibrant today; Archie-Hudson once described Talladega to Birmingham News correspondent Rose Livingston as” a place that wouldn’t tolerate racism. They knew that education was a pathway to freedom.” A school nationally ranked by the National Science Foundation for producing African American graduates who later obtain post-baccalaureate degrees in the sciences, Archie-Hudson herself received her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1958.
Born Marguerite Archie November 18, 1937 in Yonges Island, SC; divorced. Education: BA, psychology, 1958, Talladega College, AL; MA, education and counseling, Harvard University, 1962; Ph.D., higher education administration, UCLA.
Career: Counselor, Burke High School, Charleston, SC, 1958; psychometrist, institute for Psychological Services, IL Institute of Technology, 1959–;69; test writer, City of Chicago, 1960; college counselor, Laboratory School, Univ. of Chicago, 1962-66; dir., Upward Bounds, Occidental College, 1966-68; dir., college counseling, Lockhide School, Los Angeles, 1968-71; director, Educational Opportunities Program, California State University System, 1971-72; district staff director, US Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, 1972–78; Fair Housing & Equal Opportunities Section, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Los Angeles, 1978-79; TV host, Free for All ; Southern CA staff director, CA Assemblyman Willie Brown, 1979-86; associate director, academic advancement program, UCLA, 1986-88; dir., Research and Retention, College of Letters and Sciences, UCLA, 1988-90; assemblywoman, California State Assembly, 1990-96; consultant, Crystal Stairs, 1997; president, Talladega College, 1998.
Memberships: Board of Trustees, Los Angeles Community College District; vice president, California Museum of Science and Industry Foundation; board of trustees, Los Angeles Southwest College Foundation; board of trustees, Jenesse Center; board of trustees, Crystal Stairs; Member, board of governors; State Bar of California; Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluations; California Committee of Bar Examiners; City of Los Angeles Commission on Charter Reform; Democratic National Committee; board of directors, Talladega College Chamber of Commerce; United Way; chairperson, March of Dimes, Talladega; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
Addresses : Talladega College, Talladega, AL 35160.
Immediately after graduation, Archie-Hudson worked for a short stint as a counselor at Burke High School in Charleston before joining many of her classmates and venturing north in search of employment opportunities.
In 1959 she moved to Chicago and began work as a psychometrist at the Institute for Psychological Services at the Illinois Institute of Technology. There she tested business executives as a means of career placement and performance evaluation. A year later she was recruited by the City of Chicago as a civil servant in their testing department. While in Chicago, she learned about graduate school opportunities at Harvard. She decided to apply, was accepted, and from 1960-1962 worked on her masters degree in counseling and education.
Upon completion of her degree, Archie-Hudson returned to Chicago as a college counselor at the Laboratory School of the University of Chicago, a school predominantly attended by the children of the faculty and staff of the university. There she began to develop a network with university personnel nationwide, a network upon which she would draw in 1966 when she joined her then-husband, a captain in the Marine Corps, at Camp Pendleton in California.
When she arrived in California, Archie-Hudson first found employment as the director of Occidental College’s first Upward Bound program. She was known as one who advocated on behalf of minority students whose needs may have otherwise gone unnoticed, and one who made tough, unpopular decisions while proving that she could stand up to the faculty union and to popular opinion. Her involvement with inner-city children further evolved, and in 1968 she was asked to run a college counseling program at Lockhide School in Los Angeles. During this time she was also active in establishing a college counseling program for all Los Angeles high schools.
As a result of her diverse involvement within the educational system, Archie-Hudson’s visibility statewide increased, highlighted by the 1971 invitation of the California State University system to serve as the statewide director of its educational opportunities program. Given the nature of her responsibilities, Archie-Hudson spent considerable time in Sacramento. While there she met Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, a former California assemblywoman who was running for Congress. After helping Burke to win her congressional campaign in 1972, Archie-Hudson was asked to serve as Burke’s district staff director. She held this position, which propelled her into the political world of California, until Burke left Congress at the end of 1978.
At the conclusion of her term with Burke, Archie-Hudson served a short stint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunities Section in Los Angeles before joining the staff of then State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, who himself eventually became mayor of San Francisco. She held this role until 1986, after which she committed herself to completing her doctoral dissertation. She believed this task would be most easily accomplished on the campus of a university and thus joined UCLA as associate director of the academic advancement program. In 1988 she assumed the responsibility of director of research and retention for the university’s College of Letters and Sciences. Then, in 1990, after many years of service to others in the public sector, Archie-Hudson was herself elected to the first of three consecutive terms in the State Assembly as a representative from the 48th Assembly District of Los Angeles, comprising South Central Los Angeles, occupying the seat formerly held by U.S. House Representative Maxine Waters.
While the jump from the campus of UCLA to the State Assembly may initially seem like a large one, it was, Archie-Hudson commented, a logical step. Since 1976, in fact, she had held several major positions within the realm of public service. First, in 1976, while she was still on the staff of Congresswoman Burke, the California legislature came to the conclusion that governing bodies of some of the state’s major entities, including the State Bar Board of Governors, ought to have public officials represented on it. Archie-Hudson was eventually appointed as one of the first six public members on the State Bar Board, which oversaw the California legal profession and in essence served as the governing body of the bar association. After four years in this capacity, Archie-Hudson spent one year on the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission, which, for the first time, evaluated candidates’ credentials for judgeships at the trial and appellate court levels. She was then appointed to a three-year term on the California State Committee of Bar Examiners. Concurrently, at the end of 1978 and shortly after Burke left Congress, Archie-Hudson was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Los Angeles Community College, the largest community college system in the world. She ran for office on the Board the following spring and ultimately served for eight years as an elected official.
Archie-Hudson further delved into public policy in 1976 when she hosted a weekly public television series entitled Free for All. Addressing the pressing issues of the day, Archie-Hudson and five other panelists, all with diverse political backgrounds, held sway for eight years. The program even received a local television Emmy award for the show.
This varied public experience, combined with her exposure in Burke’s office, helped to shape Archie-Hudson’s next steps. As she recalled to CBB, “I moved from a practitioner on public policy to advising someone [Yvonne Burke] about what public policy did or didn’t do and then moving myself into the arena of the state bar and Free for All caused me to begin to think about being someone who shaped public policy as opposed to someone who was a witness to what public policy did.”
One of Archie-Hudson’s greatest legislative accomplishments was her work on a measure known as the Bucket Bill. The bill was originally drafted in light of evidence showing that hundreds of young children were drowning or suffocating after falling into buckets. Moreover, many of these children died while in the care of grandparents or baby-sitters, in other words people who were not necessarily aware of the inherent danger. Under her guidance, the state of California passed a law stating that anybody and any company at any level engaged in the stream of commerce in California would have to create warnings on buckets showing a child drowning. Because businesses literally all over the world conduct business in California, this symbol is now used worldwide, too. “It is the one thing for which I am somewhat famous,” remarked Archie-Hudson.
During her tenure in the Assembly Archie-Hudson did not lose sight of her educational goals. In addition to assignments on the judiciary, utilities and commerce, insurance, and legislative audit committees, she chaired for four years the Assembly Committee on Higher Education which sets education policy for the University of California, the California State University, and the California Community Colleges. She also introduced a bill to put a $500 million bond measure on the California ballot. As detailed by Archie-Hudson, the money would be designated to purchase computers, software, and network cabling in primary and secondary schools. While the bill “went down to glorious defeat,” a similar bill ultimately did pass which allowed public schools to pledge a portion of their lottery funds to buy computers. She also sponsored a bill which would have mandated schools to provide textbooks to each student for every required course they took. This bill “also went down in flames,” though it, too, was approved several years later.
From her state office, Archie-Hudson continued to campaign directly for the well-being of the children in her South Central Los Angeles neighborhoods. Towards this end she created a foundation with Lou Werner entitled Operation Field Trip. At the time, the Los Angeles Unified School District had eradicated all educational field trips due to insufficient funding. Archie-Hudson was determined to find a way to expand the educational opportunities of the students in this district. Working together in an educational partnership with the school district, the local bus company, Laidlaw, and community leaders she found a way to take students beyond the classroom walls and provide external support for cultural, social, and educational field trips. From the first trip to City Hall to see Mayor Tom Bradley, during the next six years the foundation transported more than 100,000 children on more than 950 field trips all over the city. Now out of office and out of California altogether, Archie-Hudson only recently disbanded the foundation but is hoping that the bus company and the school district will continue the program themselves.
After serving the maximum number of terms allowed, Archie-Hudson returned to the world of education in 1997, serving as a private consultant in higher education. She also served as a public policy associate to Crystal Stairs, the largest private non-profit child development corporation in California specializing in direct child care services, research, and advocacy. She also served with an air quality management district.
Despite the demands of her presidency, Archie-Hudson never fully left the realm of public policy. She served both on Los Angeles’ elected (under the leadership of the mayor) and appointed (under the guidance of the city council) charter reform commissions. Because Los Angeles is a charter city, its charter served as its constitution. Consequently, absent any violation of the charter, the state held no authority over the operations of the city. The charter, though, had not been reviewed in its totality in 75 years. As the only member to serve on both commissions, Archie-Hudson was heralded as the most visible representative of the African American community in the process that could remake city government and in fact, at one time was considered potentially the single most important person involved in the debate. While certainly lofty accolades, Archie-Hudson felt herself increasingly distanced from critical discussion once she left Los Angeles in 1997 and ultimately resigned from these posts at the end of 1998.
Despite her rise to national prominence, Archie-Hudson never lost sight of her academic roots, and throughout her career Archie-Hudson remained active in Talladega College’s alumni association, which has an involved chapter in Los Angeles. In 1997 she was elected to the 23-member Board of Trustees. After a horrifying bus accident, from which she needed months to recover, Archie-Hudson returned to Talladega. Bringing with her a wealth of direct experience in and knowledge of the national educational environment, Archie-Hudson was selected as interim president of Talladega on July 1, 1998. Shortly thereafter she was handed the prestigious reigns of president. For Archie-Hudson, her selection as president is the dream of a lifetime. In an interview with Chris Fluker of the Daily Home, she recounted, “To be one who is an alumni to this college and has the opportunity to come back and lead it in the last few years of the 20th century is just a wonderful opportunity … [It is] the kind of work that has merit and that has real opportunities and real possibilities.”
According to Archie-Hudson, the world of Talladega College when she was a student is different from the campus environment today. As she explained to Livingston, “the segregated South fueled strength and ambition” in her and her colleagues. Today’s students, Archie-Hudson further commented, “have no sense of that struggle because they were born after it was settled …[T]hey also don’t know the heroic struggles of a person of color to create a place like Talladega College. I want them to understand what that meant and how it fits in the entire progression of African-American lives. The struggle is never over; it just changes.” Towards this end, she told Fluker, “The first thing that we want to do is to reclaim the art of tradition on this campus, to make sure that we are training the best and brightest students America has, make sure we make the community a college of real access, not just to our students, but to the Talladega community.”
Tradition, for Archie-Hudson, is defined in several ways. Firstly, Talladega has always produced leaders in business, math, and science, and she intends to ensure that this trend continues. The school, moreover, housed an incredible collection of archives tracing the emergence of African Americans in higher education both in the South and across the country. The school also owned a document bearing Frederick Douglass’ signature and the original Amistad murals commemorating the 100th anniversary of the revolt. In order to preserve and share these treasures, under Archie-Hudson’s leadership Talladega has joined forces with the Alabama Historical Society to build a “rich, history-laden archive.”
Archie-Hudson clearly saw an opportunity to help define the future of her alma mater and to continue Talladega College’s progress into the national and international communities. The college is emerging into a national institution with a geographically diverse student population, and Archie-Hudson would like to enhance the diversity of its student body, now predominantly African American, and its international acclaim. “Talladega has been a really preeminent liberal arts school which trained the best and brightest. Now I want it to become preeminent internationally,” she explained to CBB. Energized by her life on campus, Archie-Hudson foresees the college playing a critical role at the turn of the century. Archie-Hudson told Casey Georg of the Daily Home, “I think Talladega College is a very significant player in higher education as we address the issue of training future leaders. How we train leaders and workers for the 21 st century is important not only from a local perspective but a global perspective as well…’ We must train them in the ability to think and analyze.” Training future leaders is the mission of Talladega; ultimately, she explained to Georg, her vision is” for the school to become more competitive for students by doing a better job of preparing them for competition in the marketplace.” Training young leaders within the liberal arts tradition, one rooted in philosophy, literature, and finance, will, Archie-Hudson reinforced, enhance their ability to lead.
Even as her career has taken her far from Los Angeles, Archie-Hudson has maintained her role in the path-breaking math and science project in her former neighborhood. Supporting an ambitious plan launched in 1988 to reinvent the California Museum of Science and Industry, she initially led a $130 million campaign connecting the business and philanthropic communities with the educational community and the legislature in Los Angeles to construct the state-of-the-art interactive California Science Center in Exposition Park across from the University of Southern California (USC). The center’s mission is to “stimulate and nurture interest in science, mathematics, and technology, to take an interdisciplinary approach that places them in a social and cultural context, and to provide leadership within the science education community.”
When it opened in February of 1998, the center expected 1,000 visitors in its first month of operation; more than 30,000 people came through the doors during those first days, and more than one million came in the first six months to experience its virtual displays, hands-on exhibits like the surgical theater, and large-scale experiences such as Tess, the 50-foot robot. “It’s magic,” Archie-Hudson told CBB.“It was one of the best things I was able to do,” she added. Further plans for the complex include a math and science neighborhood school, scheduled to open in 2001, which will boast an enriched curriculum designed to spark excitement in science, math, and technology among students historically underrepresented in these fields. In conjunction with USC, the school will also house a Science Education Resource Center designed to train and retrain teachers, parents, and members of community organizations in the pedagogy of teaching science.
Archie-Hudson jokes that, like so many people, she would like to write the great American novel when she retires. But Archie-Hudson is only partially kidding. Four years ago she began writing Friends Forever and has already penned more than 200 pages of text. She also envisions writing a work on the history of the historically black colleges and universities, such as Talladega, as part of the overall composite of America’s higher education experience. These schools, she believes, “have a rich history to share.” So, too, does Marguerite Archie-Hudson.
Birmingham News, citation unknown.
Daily Home, October 8, 1998, p. 12; July 29, 1998, pp. 1, 12.
Jet, November 2, 1998, p. 40.
Los Angeles Times, August 9, 1998, p. B1; June 4, 1998, p. A3; January 28, 1997, p. B3; June 28, 1995, p. B8; June 3, 1990, p. B1; May 28, 1987, p. 114; April 10, 1987, p. 114.
Archie-Hudson, Marguerite. Interview with Lisa S. Weitz-man, February 12, 1999.
Los Angeles County Office of Education News Release, July 8, 1997.
Talladega College News Release, October 9, 1998.
—Lisa S. Weitzman