World War II vet originally denied admission to UK receives honorary degree from university

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A former university president was denied admission to the University of Kentucky almost 70 years ago because he is black was awarded an honorary doctorate at the school's commencement Saturday.

The Lexington Herald-Leader (  ) says 89-year-old Harrison Wilson and his grandson, 22-year-old Brandon Wilson, were to receive degrees together at UK. Brandon Wilson is receiving his master's in history.

In 1946, Harrison Wilson returned home from World War II, only to be denied an education from his first choice college. UK didn't start accept black students until 1949.

The grandfather of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ended up attending Kentucky State University, which launched a life filled with an abundance of professional and social successes.

Brandon Wilson talked to some of his professors last year about his grandfather, who coached basketball at Jackson State in Mississippi and eventually became president of Norfolk State University. Leaders in UK's History Department decided to start the nomination process for Harrison Wilson to receive an honorary degree.

History Department Associate Chairwoman Gretchen Starr-LeBeau says the degree was intended to right a wrong as well as acknowledge Wilson's accomplishments.

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