In 1971, Herman Boone faced the challenge of a lifetime when racial tensions in Alexandria, Va., rose to monumental proportions. That year, three high schools were combined to form T. C. Williams High School.
Instead of the local favorite and successful head coach of the formerly white high school, Boone was named head coach of the Titans. The coaching team of Herman Boone and Bill Yoast put aside prejudices and unified players to form a squad whose common vision was to respect each other and win football games.
Through the game of football, coaches Boone and Yoast were also able to help residents of their community look past their differences and join together to support the team, which became one of the best in Virginia. The 1971 Titans compiled a 13-0 record and went on to win the state championship.
Boone’s inspirational story was captured in the Disney film, “Remember the Titans,” starring Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington. In a Washington Post interview, the film’s screenwriter, Gregory Allen Howard, said, “Herman is Shakesperean. The beauty of Herman and what he did was that it was sort of unconscious. If you’d ask Herman, ‘Were you trying to make a point with these kids?’ he would have said, ‘No, I just want to win football games.’ He was able to accomplish something quite beyond what even he realized.”
Herman Boone delivers his Bonner and Bonner Diversity Lecture Series address, “Remember the Titans—Valuing Diversity,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Albert Taylor Hall in Plumb Hall on the ESU campus.
“We’re very excited that Coach Boone has accepted this engagement,” said Dr. Michael Lane, ESU president. “He will share many life lessons on the importance of accepting diversity in our lives plus how to create cohesive dynamic and successful teams. I’m certain everyone who attends will walk away with more than one lesson.”
The Bonner and Bonner Lecture Series was established in 1992 in honor of Drs. Thomas and Mary Bonner, ESU’s first and second African American faculty members. Both were tenured professors with a combined 48 years of service and contributions to ESU.
The public is invited to attend the lecture free of charge.