Herman Boone used the discussion to address some of the real-life issues he faced in 1971 as head football coach of the then newly integrated T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. Boone's character is played by Denzel Washington in "Remember the Titans."
Boone focused the talk on his experiences that were depicted in the movie, which was shown in the Union Auditorium on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27.
The discussion was held in 111 Carroll Hall and sponsored by the Carolina Union Activities Board and Students for the Advancement of Race Relations.
Chimi Boyd, assistant director of the Campus Y, said she thought the seminar was appropriate for the time of year. "With it being Black History Month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to bring (Boone) to campus," Boyd said.
Boone, who is now retired, explained that he first declined his appointment at T.C. Williams because the fact that he was picked over a white coach with more experience was controversial. "They didn't want me; they just wanted a black coach," he said.
But Boone said he soon reconsidered the position for various reasons, such as his wife's pregnancy. "I dropped my pride," he said.
Boone led the Titans to a 13-0 record and a state championship in one year, uniting a group of high school boys in the midst of racial tension.
Boone attributed the team's success to his discipline and a dictator-like attitude with his players. He said communication is necessary to achieve diversity. "You have to talk to each other," he said.
During the team's two-week preseason training in Gettysburg, Pa., Boone gave a list of the team's members to every player and required that they speak to each person on the list before returning home.
This and other exercises caused about 20 people to resign from the team. After the two-week training camp, Boone said his work began to pay off.
He explained that the players had begun to talk, interact, and integrate themselves voluntarily.
"It is truly a sight to see when you see a black kid boogying in the aisle of a bus to country music," Boone said to many laughs from the crowd.
Along with achieving a successful football season, the Titans became a model for integration not only at Williams but for all of Alexandria.
Jermain Reeves, co-chairman of Students for the Advancement of Race Relations, said Boone's speech was well received. Several hundred people attended the event. "I think it went well," he said.
"I was glad that we had a good turnout."
Boone also praised UNC for its work to promote racial diversity and emphasized the need for further improvement.
"You'll be faced with a great challenge when you leave to face the diverse corporate world," he told audience members. "Young people, you must prepare yourselves to meet these challenges now.
"Discrimination will hover over our heads like the clouds over California. ... Ladies and gentlemen, you must honor diversity."
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