Kentuckians keep pride despite hardship

Saadia Akhtar

The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home. Though our state song, “My Old Kentucky Home,” was composed in 1852, Stephen Foster’s words could not ring more true today. Some say it’s the air, others say it’s the rolling fields, but no one can deny that Kentucky is a special place and that Kentuckians are a special people.

Many label Kentuckians ‘barefooted, uneducated hicks.’ However, those people have never visited Kentucky. They have no idea that Kentuckians are some of the most fiercely loyal and dedicated people in the nation.

Look at UK basketball. No other state rallies as hard for a college basketball team as Kentucky. On game days, the whole state turns blue. Whether we win or lose, couches are burned and people riot in the streets. No matter where UK is playing, Big Blue Nation is there, cheering on their Wildcats.

Besides being loyal, Kentuckians are some of the strongest people as well. Just take the famous boxer, Muhammad Ali. Having been born and raised in Louisville, Ali epitomizes our Kentuckian values. A hard and determined worker from the start, Ali went against the status quo and stood up for what he believed in, time and time again — no matter what the consequences.

Kentuckians have withstood the test of time. The Kentucky Derby is a testament to this. The Kentucky Derby has run every single year since 1875 and is the longest running sporting event in United States’ history. The Derby combines Kentucky’s love for tradition with their passion for livestock and the combination wows the world every single time.

Some people say Kentucky values have become too commercialized — that UK Basketball and the Derby are just capitalistic endeavors to further Kentucky’s economy. However, the people who say this may be the same people who have backward views of Kentucky. Kentuckians valued the Derby and prided ourselves on UK Basketball before the rest of the nation did. We value Muhammad Ali, someone who was both black and Muslim (two identities that face institutionalized discrimination). Kentucky may not be the richest state or even the smartest state, but we value what we have and respect it until the very end.

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