September 30, 1967 marks the 50th anniversary of the first integrated football game in the SEC between the University of Kentucky and the University of Mississippi. Following the tragic death of Greg Page on September 29, Nathaniel Northington became the first African American player to play in an SEC football game.04/23/18
Charles Bradshaw, head coach of the University of Kentucky football team from 1962 to 1968. Bradshaw played a role in signing the first African American players, Nathaniel Northington and Greg Page, to UK’s football team.04/23/18
In 1965, UK recruited Nathaniel Northington to play football for the UK Wildcats – a few weeks later UK football coach Charles Bradshaw signed Greg Page from Middlesboro, Kentucky. Northington and Page pushed for further integration and by the fall of August 1967, other African American players were signed, including Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg.
Tragedy struck, however, during practice in August, leaving Greg Page paralyzed from the neck down. Page died on September 29, one day before Northington broke the SEC’s color barrier in the September 30, 1967 game against the University of Mississippi.04/23/18
John Oswald served as the University of Kentucky’s sixth president from 1963 – 1968. Although a short tenure at the helm of the university, Oswald’s progressive stance on academics and integration steered UK toward the recruitment of African American players.
Oswald picked up where his predecessor, former UK president Frank Dickey, left off by guiding behind-the-scenes conversations regarding the racial desegregation of the SEC. Concerned over Kentucky’s future in the SEC and the overall survival of the conference, UK athletics director Bernie Shively and Auburn athletics director Jeff Beard proposed a plan in which teams would play five permanent conference opponents and two additional teams on a rotating basis. This plan laid the early foundation for today’s conference schedule in the SEC.04/23/18
Ann Reynolds and Bill Meers of LaGrange, KY talk about growing up parallel to each other in a segregated community
Ann Reynolds and William “Bill” Meers discuss growing up in LaGrange, KY when it was a segregated community. They reflect on going to separate segregated schools (1 for white students and 1 for black students) and talk about the community in general during desegregation. Reynolds discusses attending the Lincoln Institute as a young woman and later Kentucky State University. Meers discusses attending Transylvania University and attending the 1964 civil rights march on Frankfort as a student there. He remembers finding a small group from LaGrange at the 1964 rally, of which a member was Reynolds’ mother.
Governor Combs discusses the politics behind his issue of the executive order (more…)04/23/18