This weekend, during their game against Eastern Michigan, the Kentucky Wildcats payed tribute to former player Nate Northington in a variety of ways. After all, it is the 50th anniversary of Northington becoming the first African-American to play football in the SEC.
Clearly, this is an historic commemoration of a watershed moment in college athletics, and it follows last year’s unveiling of the statue at Kroger Field commemorating the first four African-American players in program history.
The statue that will forever honor Wilbur Hackett, Houston Hogg, Greg Page and Nate Northington. pic.twitter.com/FzXkCNSAMi— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) September 22, 2016
One way in which Kentucky will salute Northington is by wearing a sticker on their helmets that reads “23”—Northington’s number while at Kentucky.
Northington, who was named the team’s honorary captain today, also joined Coach Stoops and the rest of the team during the Cat Walk, which made for a pretty poignant moment as he shook hands with fans—both young and old.
Before the game began, Kentucky brought Northington out onto the field, and UK beat writer Joe Mussatto described the scene he witnessed at Kroger Field:
Nate Northington is an honorary captain for today's game. Standing ovation for him.— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) September 30, 2017
By the way, you should carve a few minutes out of your Saturday to watch this great video that ESPN put together about Northington and the role he played in helping de-segregate the SEC back in 1967.