Kentucky State University students, staff, faculty and administration heard words of wisdom and inspiration from the honorable Judge Glenda A. Hatchett during the 2019 Heritage Assembly.

Hatchett, star of long-running television show Judge Hatchett, announced up front that hers wouldn’t be a traditional black history month speech. Rather, it would be a challenge.

“We are a people who survived the outrageous horrible days of slavery,” Hatchett said. “We have seen difficult times before.”

Hatchett noted statistics about the incarceration of African-Americans, citing disparity in the state prison rate across the nation.

Hatchett also encouraged students to reach out to someone they know who should be attending Kentucky State.

“There is somebody who needs to be sitting next to you at Kentucky State,” Hatchett said. “You know him or her. Smart. Got lost in the shuffle.”

Hatchett also recounted a lesson her father taught her in first grade.

“Separate but equal had not made its way to Atlanta,” Hatchett said.

Hatchett’s class were issued books by their teacher, but the books were falling apart. After class, Hatchett stayed behind to ask her teacher for another copy. The teacher said there weren’t any new books for African-American children.

Hatchett ran home to tell her father, expecting him to resolve the situation. Instead, he explained to Hatchett that the teacher was right.

During that time, supplies that were to be thrown out were left behind on loading docks at white schools and janitors for the black schools came to pick them up. It was the reason why the crayons were merely nubs, why Hatchett’s desk was wobbly and why the books were in tatters.

After explaining this to Hatchett, her father told her to get her crayons.

“Sit there and write your own story,” her father said. “He knew in his wisdom he couldn’t fix society, but he told me not to linger at the pity party.”

Hatchett implored the audience to write their own story, as well.

“You cannot linger at the pity party,” Hatchett said. “You can’t because you’re black, a woman, an alcoholic, you don’t know your daddy or a first-generation college student. That’s the old story. We are in the business of writing a new story of hope and possibility. The world needs your new story.”

Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II honored four recipients with the 2019 Heritage Awards.

BLINKS Transfer Enterprise received the Access Heritage Award for significant contributions to the equal educational opportunity and institutional access heritage of Kentucky State University. BLINKS Transfer Enterprise is a transfer collaboration between Bluegrass Community Technical College (BCTC), The Links, Inc. and Kentucky State University.

Charlene F. Walker, vice president of multiculturalism and inclusion at BCTC, said 20 BLINKS students have graduated from Kentucky State with a bachelor’s degree. Three of those students graduated with highest honors.

Dr. Herman Walston received the Agricultural Heritage Award for significant contributions to the agricultural heritage of Kentucky State University. Walston has served 43 years at Kentucky State and is currently a professor of child development and family relations.

“I’ve been here for many years,” Walston said. “I do it for the children of the community and for the children whom I teach.”

Elmore Smith received the Athletic Heritage Award for significant contributions to the athletic heritage of Kentucky State.

Smith won back-to-back NAIA championships at Kentucky State and played eight seasons in the NBA.

Smith said it was an honor to be at Kentucky State and a recipient of the Athletic Heritage Award.

Dr. Betty Sue Griffin received the Academic Heritage Award for significant contributions to the academic heritage of Kentucky State. Griffin previously served as professor-tenured and chairperson of the Division of Education and Human Services at Kentucky State, tenured professor of education at Oregon State University, visiting scholar at Stanford University and assistant to the Vice Chancellor of Minority Affairs at the University of Kentucky.

“Anything I have done or hope to do is because of the moral underpinning and academic expectation my former professors still place on me,” Griffin said.