From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Hackett, Wilbur, Jr.

(born: 1949) 

Wilbur Hackett, Jr. is a 1999 Hall of Fame inductee at Manual High School in Louisville, KY, where he was a linebacker and running back on defense. He was considered the best all-around football player in the city: in 1966 Hackett was All-State, All-Southern, and Parade Magazine All-American.

The 5' 9", 185 pound Hackett went on to become a three year starting linebacker at the University of Kentucky (UK). He was the first African American to start in any sport at UK and in 1969 was the first to be named a team captain. Hackett was also one of the first African American football players in the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Hackett received death threats while at UK; in a game at Ole Miss, armed guards were on hand to protect him and teammate and roommate Houston Hogg, who was from Owensboro, KY.

Hackett was influenced to attend UK by Nat Northington and Greg Page (the latter would die from a neck injury he received during practice). Cecil New, a white football player at UK, also had a neck injury the same year as Page. Hackett left UK in 1970.

Wilbur Hackett, Jr. was born in Winchester, KY. For more see "Negro to captain Kentucky football," Washington Post, 8/30/1969, p.  D5; "Recalling the death of racial segregation in Southern college football," The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, issue 21, (Autumn 1988), pp. 64-65; M. Story, "They were our Jackie Robinsons - Hackett recalls days as trailblazer at UK of 1960s, a story for every county," Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/28/2007, Sports section, p. C2; L. Austin, "Courage to play," Kentucky Kernel, 10/04/2010; "Wilbur Hackett, Jr." on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees website; and "Lecturer's Husband Retires as Rose Bowl Referee after 23 Years," in The Horizon: The Student Voice of Indiana University Southeast, Feb. 22, 2011.

Listen to the Wilbur Hackett Jr. oral history recordings in the Spoke Database at the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center; and in the PBS series Conversations with Champions: Wilbur Hackett, Jr. and Paul Karem episode 3 in season 5.

Kentucky County & Region

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Read about Winchester, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Northington, Nathaniel "Nate"
NKAA Entry: Page, Gregory D. "Greg" (football)
NKAA Source: The Washington post (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Journal of blacks in higher education (periodical)
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Hackett, Wilbur, Jr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 24, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-05-07 17:37:34