UK football pioneer Wilbur Hackett, Jr. honored in Black History Month


Wilbur Hacket, Jr. was honored last Thursday as part of Black History Month. He once faced down death threats during his football career at the University of Kentucky.

They threatened him before he even stepped on campus. His friends told him not to go, that kids there hurt black people. But none of this stopped him.
(Lindsey Austin for kentuckykernel)


Wilbur Hackett, Jr. was the first African-American to be named a team captain and one of the first African-American football players in the Southeastern Conference. Armed guards had to protect him during a game against Ole Miss.

Hackett was a linebacker and running back on defense at Manual High School in 1966. He was named All-State, All-Southern, and Parade Magazine All-American. He went on to become a three-year starting linebacker at UK, making him the first African American to start in any sport at UK.

After college, he became an umpire, officiating high school games before advancing to the college umpire ranks.  He officiated in the SEC for 13 years until he retired in 2010.

He is a member of the Jefferson County and DuPont Manual Hall of Fame, the Kentuckiana Football Officials Association Hall of Fame, the UK Hall of Fame, and the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.

Full story at WDRB

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  • David Faulkner

    I met Wilbur when he worked one summer for IBM. He was a fine young man. At the time, I didn’t realize how difficult things had been for him simply because of his race. Over the years, I have gained even more respect for Wilbur. During this month, pause to remember the courageous young people that, as kids, were thrown into the middle of the mess adults made of integration

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