Behind “Remember the Titans”


Mason Longhurst, Staff Writer

In 1971, the community of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia helped create a story that is still relevant today. This was a story of overcoming racial prejudice in the Deep South. A story of a football team coming together in support of their Black teammates during a time of racial turmoil. A Black man, made head coach of a previously White team, refusing to surrender his season. A tremendously successful 13-0 record, with some of the best players to have ever set foot on a football field. A community coming together to support change. And, ultimately, a team mourning the loss of their friend and teammate.

Ultimately, what is the 2000 movie ‘Remember the Titans” about? It is about men, women, and children coming together to support both Black and White individuals. Based on a true story, “Remember the Titans” focuses on the events of the 1971 highschool football season in Virginia. Coach Herman Boone, played by star actor Denzel Washington, is the recently appointed head coach over a newly integrated T.C. Williams Highschool. At first, Boone does not want to take the job, as that would dishonor Bill Yoast, the old head coach, but is finally convinced by the outpouring of support from the Black community.

Boone quickly takes over the reigns, convinces Yoast to come back as the defensive coordinator, and, over a week-long football camp, joins his players together in unity. Boone then receives the news from a racist school chairman that he will be fired as soon as the Titans lose a single game. Upon hearing this, all the Black and White players on the team decide to support Boone the best they can. White captain Gerry Bertier even has his best friend removed from the team after Ray puts their Black quarterback, Jerry Harris, in danger. After a season of fighting racial injustice, shootings, and posting a flawless record, Boone, Yoast, and the Titans move into the playoffs.

With the threat of being fired after a single loss still fresh in his mind, Herman Boone trains his team harder than ever. As the Titans enter the playoffs, they continue to struggle against powerful opponents both on and off the field. To avoid any spoilers, watch the movie yourself to see how Coach Boone, as well as his team, deal with the challenges that await them.

Ten years later, the team gathers at Gerry Bertier’s funeral. Bertier, who was paralyzed in a car accident during the playoffs, had been killed by a drunk driver. Sadly, this fatal accident did really happen. The team, Boone, Yoast, as well as much of the community come together to celebrate Bertier’s life. This movie casts a spotlight on a perfect example of unity between Black and White. This movie grossed 136.7 million dollars worldwide and has been called one of the best football films ever made. I would recommend this family-friendly movie to anyone.

The Titans really did finish the 1971 season undefeated. However, unlike in the movie, nine of their thirteen games were shutouts, and the rest were decisive victories, with the Titans outscoring their opponents 338-45 in the season. The Titans were very impressive throughout 1971. They actually held the impressive Andrew Lewis Highschool team to negative five offensive yards the entire game. Bertier was paralyzed after the championship game when the car he was driving malfunctioned and crashed. Black History Month is a great time to watch and rewatch this powerfully moving movie.