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Racial pioneer Wilbur Hackett will be honorary captain for Vanderbilt game

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky has done a terrific job with the honorary captains it has had for home football games this season.

I was really happy to see UK’s all-time leading rusher, Sonny Collins, at UK a few weeks ago. Same with having Wilbur Hackett back for Saturday night’s homecoming game against Vanderbilt.

Hackett was a linebacker and running back at Louisville Manual and rated as the city’s best overall high school player his senior season. Not only did he earn all-state honors in 1966, but he was also named a Parade All-American.

He became a pioneer for racial integration when he chose to play at Kentucky. He came a year after Nate Northington and Greg Page came to UK. He arrived with Houston Hogg of Owensboro.

Hackett became a three-year starter from 1968-70 and in 1969 became the first African-American to be a starter in any sport at Kentucky and the first team captain in any sport in the SEC. He earned all-SEC honors in 1968 and was UK’s most valuable player his senior season.

Hackett and Hogg received death threats when they played for Kentucky at Ole Miss and armed guards were brought in to protect both players.

Hackett never wavered and became a graduate assistant coach at UK for two years. He was Inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009 and is also a member of the Manual Hall of Fame.

Hackett’s story is part of the new “Black in Blue” documentary about the four racial pioneers at UK.

 

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