Thursday, June 27, 2013 11:47 PM
Youth advocate robbed, beaten
By Janet Conner-Knox | Times Staff Writer
Last weekend started out pretty good for Khalid Hudson, community mentor for young, disadvantaged children. Saturday night, he was recognized by the NAACP for his work with youth.
Sunday, he celebrated his eldest son’s eighth birthday.
A devout Muslim, he went to the mosque to pray after his son’s birthday celebration. Hudson, 32, works for Wilson County Schools 10 months out of the year, and decided after his prayer, he would continue his hunt for summer work on his tablet. It was at night.
"I don’t have Internet service, so I went to a hot spot to just job hunt some more,” Hudson said. "I look online constantly for work.”But as he sat in his truck looking for work, a young man came up and asked him for a cigarette. Hudson said he told the guy he didn’t smoke.
"The young guy went away and about half an hour later somebody threw something through my driver’s seat window smashing it,” Hudson said. "So I jumped out of my truck to see if I could see who did it.”
That’s when Hudson said he was hit on the back of his head with a hard object.
Hudson was beaten on his face, head, back and legs. He had to get a CAT scan and 14 stitches. Hudson said it didn’t seem so bad until he was at the hospital and asked how much the CAT scan would cost. Hudson, who has no health insurance, said, "my eyes filled with tears.”
Days later, his face is still swollen.
Hudson said police have been helpful and very kind to him, although there are no suspects right now.
Not a native Wilsonian, Hudson moved to Wilson from Chicago, married a local woman and together they have two children. Since moving to Wilson, he has worked with youth who need guidance and help.
Hudson said he knows helping youth isn’t the job for everyone, but he feels a call to help young people.
"I feel a responsibility to provide guidance for those who are searching for guidance,” Hudson said. "Ultimately, maybe my own personal salvation may be found within being able to help and assist others. There is nobody else that needs more help than youth and those who struggle to find themselves in the world.”
Hudson has held non-violence gatherings where he invited community people to come together to find solutions to violence. Hudson has taken groups of children to different neighborhoods to clean up trash.
And now Hudson helps with after-school mentoring at a local middle school.
But Hudson said Wilson needs more opportunities for their young people to be successful here.
"There is a shortage of opportunities for people to significantly provide for their family here,” Hudson observes. "It’s short on opportunities for youth to see examples of the good possibilities of life - for them.”
MORE OPPORTUNITIES NEEDED
Hudson said because there aren’t enough opportunities many go off to college and never come back until they retire.
"There needs to be the ability to see the regular guy get the big house here by working hard,” Hudson said. "There isn’t a lot of that in the African-American community. I know many young African-American men who love their families and love this community but because they weren’t able to provide for their families, they had to leave.”
Hudson said he is faced with leaving this community now to find better career opportunities.
"I have a responsibility for my sons - I have to provide for my children, too,” Hudson said. "I’m caught between trying to help the community and not being able to help my children the way I want to.”
Hudson, who is now divorced, said leaving the community means leaving his sons without his daily guidance.
"So, leaving means being able to provide better for my children, but I’m concerned about the people who are able to provide a positive example — not just for my sons, but for others who are here,” Hudson said.
Hudson said he hopes those who are in power will look at how to help Wilson catch up in helping their working poor. A by-product of the economic growth has to be a willingness to give back to their community, Hudson said.
"It’s not enough to live in the big house on the hill and not worry about those who don’t live up there with me. Eventually what happens is that the big house on the hill won’t be safe from those who can’t afford to live there.”
Hudson said he wishes for a Wilson with better industry for all who live here, making the standard of living higher for everybody.
Hudson said as he has worked these years with youth, he is saddened by the youth who don’t dream.
"I talk to young people all of the time who don’t believe they can achieve success,” Hudson said. "Dreaming should come naturally to them, and they don’t think they can make it unless they can be in the NBA or become a rap artist.”
Hudson said parents and others in the community have to get involved and let young people know that their dreams come true when they get their education.
"They don’t make that connection,” Hudson said. "They look at someone like LeBron James, who is a student of the game, and don’t know the hard work it takes to be there. And you have to be college educated to be in the NBA.”
Hudson tells young people all of the time that their idol Jay-Z was valedictorian.
"They don’t see how Jay-Z evolved in his life to be where he is now,” Hudson said. "And they are not looking at the many rap artists who only are famous a short time.”
Hudson said programs for youth should not just be fun.
"The place where youth go after school should be safe, but fun shouldn’t be the only consideration,” Hudson said. "They need information that helps the soul survive and do better.”
Hudson’s mother flew in from across the country when she heard of her son’s mugging.
Deborah Gormley said she is angry with the young people who assaulted her son.
"He is a good man with a gentle soul,” Gormley said. "He asked me not to come here, but I had to come. When I saw his face, all swollen, I could not help crying. He didn’t deserve that.”
She said it seemed so brutal because after his attackers got the tablet, truck keys and the little money he had, they still beat him.
Gormley said she hopes her son considers moving to a community where his degree can be used.
Hudson said he is glad to be alive because he has a friend who was robbed and killed.
And he said wherever he goes, he’ll look to help misguided youth.
"It’s in my heart,” Hudson said. "I can’t escape that.”
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