For the first time this school year, the entire Class of 2021 gathered together for a socially-distanced senior assembly. The seniors packed Wills Center to view “Black in Blue,”a documentary about the four University of Kentucky football players—Nate Northington, Greg Page, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg—who integrated sports in the Southeastern Conference in the late 1960s.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to come together as a class and witness an historical moment of four UK players who broke the color barrier in the SEC,” said Cathy Reynolds, Director for Mission and Identity for St. X. “Within the Xaverian Mission of Saint Xavier, we are called to embrace diversity and look for ways to open the doors to conversation about race and equality. By having the students view this film and meet the producer and one of the players, our hope is that they gain a new awareness, a new perspective, and a mutual respect for one another.”
Paul Karem ’68, the executive producer of the film and a former UK teammate, said the idea emerged after watching ESPN Film’s “30 for 30” titled “The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story.” Holloway was the first black quarterback to play in the SEC at the University of Tennessee from 1972-1974.
The ESPN documentary inspired Karem to tell the story of his brothers in blue who had played five years earlier at UK. He shared his idea with other St. X graduates at a lunch gathering. Today he told students that his St. X ties helped him get the project off the ground by being introduced to producer Paul Wagner. But he encountered many obstacles when it came to financing the project. He credits St. X for instilling in him the drive and perseverance to see it through. While Karem did not mention this to the seniors, he was the driving force behind the effort to install life-size statues honoring his teammates.
“I am not sure there is a greater lesson for our students than seeing one of their own St. X brothers, Paul Karem, lead the charge to tell a story so powerful and necessary. Then, to watch them meet one of the men in the film, Wilbur Hackett, who did so much to break the color line in the SEC for future athletes, was wonderful. Wilbur gave our boys a message of perseverance and hope,” said Principal Amy Sample.
Students from other grades will be able to view the film in the upcoming weeks.
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