As part of honoring and celebrating #BredHistory during Black History Month, Kentucky State University is looking back at some of its trailblazing alumni.

The year 1909 brought athletics to Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute. Under Paul W. L. Jones, class of 1898, the first football, baseball and track teams were organized.

In 1972, Travis “Machine” Grant became the first small-college basketball player awarded with the Lapchick Trophy, an honor given to the Sporting News College Basketball Player of the Year. He was a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1972 National Basketball Association Draft.

After his junior season, Elmore “Big E” Smith ’71 was selected as the third overall pick in the NBA Draft, and played professionally from 1971-1982 for the Buffalo Braves, Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

State Representative for the 57th House District, Derrick Graham ’80 has been serving Franklin County and the Commonwealth of Kentucky since 2003.

A noted writer, researcher and author, Dr. Henry E. Cheaney ’36 was a leading authority on the history of African-Americans in Kentucky. His personal collection was used for the writing of “A History of Blacks in Kentucky” a two-volume work by Marion B. Lucas.

With the introduction of athletics in the early 1900s, Paul W. L. Jones, the “Father of Kentucky State Athletics” decided to change the school colors from the original Blue + Red to the present Green + Gold.

A decorated war hero, Dr. Rufus Ballard Atwood was the longest-serving president of Kentucky State, serving for 33 years. He helped to cultivate the school as an accredited land-grant institution.

Winnie A. Scott, class of 1890, was instrumental in the founding of the Winnie A. Scott Memorial Hospital, originally known as the Women’s Improvement Club Hospital, the only Frankfort hospital serving African-Americans until desegregation of King’s Daughters Hospital in 1959. Scott earned her degree with the first graduating class of Kentucky State.

Legendary Coach Lucias T. Mitchell led the Thorobreds through the most successful stretch in program history, claiming three straight NAIA national championships in 1970, 1971 and 1972.

Dr. Harold R. Benson became the cooperative extension program administrator at Kentucky State in 1975. He secured the purchase of the University’s 300-acre research and demonstration farm. Benson revolutionized the agriculture research and education programs at the University.

In 1874, John Henry Jackson became the first African-American graduate of Berea College and probably the first African-American graduate in Kentucky. He was the last African-American professor hired at Berea before passage of the 1904 Day Law.

In, 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the Commencement Convocation speaker at Kentucky State.

To view photos of the alumni listed here, visit our photo gallery. To follow the month-long social media campaign to honor our past, use the hashtag #BredHistory.