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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A man who once faced down death threats during his football career at the University of Kentucky was honored today as part of Kentucky's celebration of Black History Month.
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.
"Black History Month is a chance to reflect on the resilience and spirit of the African-American community and the unmatched influence leaders – such as Wilbur Hackett -- have had on the American fiber," said Kentucky State Senator Gerald A. Neal of Louisville.
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.
Also on Wednesday, the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights inducted the late Dr. Blaine Hudson into the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians.
Hudson was the former dean of U of L's College of Arts and Sciences. He had taken a medical leave of absence back in August.
He was well-known for his research on Kentucky's African American history, and co-authored the book "Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History." He had most recently co-chaired Mayor Greg Fischer task force to end violence in west Louisville.