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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Coach Herman Boone helps Guilford remember the Titans and Dr. King

(Cloud Gamble)
(Cloud Gamble)

“Tonight we got Hayfield, like all the other schools in our conference they’re all white. They don’t have to worry about race; we do. Let me tell you something: you don’t let anyone come between us. Nothing tears us apart.”These are the words of Coach Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, in the film “Remember the Titans.”

On Jan. 28, the real Boone came to Guilford to help the community remember the Titans and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Boone is an African American coach who led T.C. Williams high school in Alexandria, Va. to a state championship in 1971.

What made this team different from the teams they competed against was that blacks and whites shared the same side of the playing field.

Boone dealt with harsh judgments and racial tension because he took the job of Bill Youst, a respected white coach in Alexandria, Va. Hiring Boone was said to be a gesture of good will, especially in the middle of the desegregation period in the south.

In 2000, Boone’s story was made into the Disney film “Remember the Titans.” According to Boone, “This movie is not about football. It’s about an incredible group of young boys following Dr. Martin Luther King.”

When Boone took over the T.C. Williams football team, white players refused to play for him. But because Bill Youst agreed to stay at T.C. Williams as a defensive coordinator, white players stayed, too.

Boone then took the team to camp where he congregated the segregated team. Because of racial tension among the team, players were forced to meet with teammates of different color and get to know them.

Jack Hicks, a graduate of T.C. Williams in 1975 and the chairman of the diversity committee at Womble Carlyle law firm, came to Guilford for the event.

“There was fight tension everywhere,” Hicks said. “When walking down the hallway, seeing football players was comforting because they would break up fights.”

Hicks later said, “The school rallied around the team.” When referring to the football players getting along, Hicks said that students thought “If they can do it, so can we.”

When Boone made his players interact off the field, he was supporting the same methods of integrating as King. Just as King said, Boone wanted his players to be judged by their character, not by their color.

Boone praised King and talked about what he would say if he was with present that evening.

“Dr. King would say ‘Tell your children they are the repairers of breaches,'” said Boone. “‘Put aside differences. Talk to each other instead of fight. Love rather than hate. Take away guns and give them books. Lead them into colleges and universities. We must do this because we care.'”

Boone addressed the audience about what students can do to carry out King’s legacy.

“(King’s) life was his real statement,” Boone said. “What statement will your life make? A degree certifies you, a degree clarifies you, and a degree assists you to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to stand up. Speak out for injustices of this world.

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