Kentucky legislators and community leaders on Wednesday honored an athlete and an academic during the 10th annual Black History Month Celebration at the Capitol. The 2013 Black History Month celebration honoree was Wilbur Louis Hackett Jr., a groundbreaking football player. He was also the 2011 Kentucky Black Sports Hall of Fame inductee who state Sen. Gerald Neal, of Louisville, said "epitomizes all that is good about sports."
Hackett, along with being one of the first African American football players in the Southeastern Conference, was the first African American to start in any sport at UK. In 1969, he became the first African American to be named team captain.
Hackett was named All-State, All-Southern and Parade Magazine All-American. He had to have the protection of armed guard at a game against Ole Miss after receiving death threats. Hackett went on to officiate in the SEC for 13 years before retiring in 2010.
"This is truly a remarkable day for me and I didn't realize the magnitude until I got here." Hackett said.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights also posthumously inducted J. Blaine Hudson—the former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Louisville, who died last month—into the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians during the celebration.
Hudson's surviving family members received his awards and shared their memories of Hudson's work and accomplishments. They were joined by James Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville, who spoke of Blaine's academic influence.
State Rep. Jim Glenn, D- Owensboro, said he was pleased with the turnout for the celebration.
"It was standing room only," Glenn said. "It was a great program and I'm glad we were able to get a number of people together and honor a number of people."