BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Coach Herman Boone, who quickly gained national notoriety following the success of the film Remember the Titans, will be keynote speaker at Union College’s upcoming annual Spring Convocation.
Boone’s story of coaching football in a newly integrated school in the early 1970s was chronicled in the 2000 box office hit, which starred Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington. On Jan. 19, he will bring messages associated with this experience to the Union College community. The event is at 9:30 a.m. in Conway Boatman Chapel. Although seating will be limited, the public is invited to attend at no charge.
Now retired from coaching, Boone continues to motivate and inspire audiences like Union College students, who vow as part of their freshman induction ceremony to uphold the values that Boone speaks about. Debbie D’Anna, dean of student life, expects Boone’s speech to make a profound impact on the student body, while reinforcing their acceptance of the college’s core values.
Boone will bring lessons in diversity, respect, teamwork, community involvement and the importance of character. He will also offer commentary about his experiences associated with Remember the Titans.
Boone’s famous story occurred in Alexandria, Va., in 1971, when three area schools integrated to form T.C. Williams High School. It was from this union that the Titan football team was created. Racial strain added to the stress of combining teams that had formerly been rivals. Tensions quickly escalated when Boone was named head coach, passing over the local favorite who remained on the staff as an assistant coach. Boone’s appointment angered many people, who viewed the decision as a gesture of goodwill to the black community rather than being based on merit.
Remarkably, the two coaches were able to put aside their prejudices, and in doing so unified their players to form a team whose common vision was to respect each other and win football games. At the same time, through the game of football, the coaches were able to help their small Virginian community put aside intolerance and join together to support their children. The Titans became one of the best teams in Virginia, compiling a 13-0 record. They went on to win the state championship.
Union College is a four-year liberal arts institution related to the United Methodist Church.