Remember the Titans
Based on actual events that took place in 1971, this movie is about the racial and social tensions of the South. Alexandria, Virginia is a community torn apart by racial hatred and the order to integrate their public high schools. Reluctantly, the school board replaces Bill Yoast (Will Patton), the popular white coach, with Herman Boone (Denzel Washington), a reputable black coach, as head coach of the T.C. Williams Titans football team. Yoast, under an invitation from Boone, accepts the position as coach of the defensive line. Together they inspire, not just the team, but the town to “Trust the soul of a man rather than the look of him.” This is a brilliant movie that not only entertains, but teaches a life changing lessons. Remember the Titans shows its viewers to look further than a person’s outward appearance and look at a person’s soul. Racism and football is the backdrop for the clash of leadership styles and personal perspectives that each man must learn and understand in order to become a winning team. Furthermore, this movie goes beyond the lesson of racism, it also teaches unity, trust, loyalty, and integrity.
First, while they are at football camp the racial tensions come to a head and cause an outpour of hatred as the coaches integrate the all-white team with the all-black team. It’s not until one white player is partnered with one black player and forced to find out personal information do they start to realize they are all somewhat the same on the inside. Another lesson that came out in this part of the film is that not all prejudices occur between different ethnic groups. Ronnie Bass (Kip Pardue) arrives at football camp, with long blonde hair, just having moved from California. The team quickly nicknames him “Sunshine” because they assume that since he is from California and has long hair, he must be gay.
Next, unity is brought to light when the captain of the all-white team, Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurt) confronts the captain of the all-black team, Julius Campbell (Wood Harris) about his team playing as individuals and not a team. Things start to turn around when Julius tells Gerry “Actions reflect leadership, captain”, that’s when Gerry realizes he is not being a good leader and letting the team down.
Additionally, when the team gets back from camp they quickly realize the town does not share their newly unified team loyalty and some of the team members start to regress and lose their trust in unity. Once the team rallies and shows the town that they are working together and are loyal regardless of skin color most of the town follows the lead of the football team and accepts the new coach and team members. Unfortunately, not all the town is so accepting and some try to sabotage a football game, with the officiating, to cause the team to lose. Coach Yoast sees what is happening and stops it, showing his loyalty is to the team and not the school board. Finally, the team is losing in the State Championship and Coach Yoast is still letting his pride stand in the way of asking Coach Boone for help with the defensive line. It takes Coach Yoast’s nine year old daughter, Sheryl (Hayden Panettiere), encouraging him to trust a man’s soul rather than his looks to finally unite the two coaches. All in all, Remember the Titans shows how reverence is a stern antidote for racial hatred and bigotry. The sport of football became a workshop for teaching the young and old about racial harmony, trust, and loyalty. People said that it could not work, black and white, but the Titans made it work every day.