‘Remember the Titans’ Coach Boone speaks at WSU

From staff reports

In between Denzel Washington and Diana Ross references that brought levity to Beasley Coliseum Wednesday night, historically acclaimed high school football coach Herman Boone gave a powerful lesson on becoming a Titan.

“At this moment the torch has been passed to you,” Boone said during his speech. “Remember, young people, that nothing can be changed unless it’s faced by you.”

Boone rose to fame in 2000 after the release of the blockbuster film “Remember the Titans,” a depiction of the 1971 T.C. Williams High School football team that went 13-0 after being integrated with Hammon High School and George Washington High School.

At the time he was hired, racial tension was high in Alexandria, Virginia, and Boone was selected to unite the community. A seemingly insurmountable task, he resurrected that experience into helping the students of Washington State University understand the impact of unity on campus.

“Reach out and touch someone’s hand. Make this world a better place if you can,” he said, quoting Diana Ross’ hit single released in 1970. “You can’t keep doing the same old things the same old way.”

Referencing his ’71 football team, Boone stated the incredible opportunity each student at WSU holds in their hand with the chance to make a legitimate impact on the world. Being a Titan is more than just wearing a white football jersey, it’s about the person in that jersey.

Before the start of their 1971 season, Boone took his coaches and players to Gettysburg National Cemetery, a crushing symbol of what happened when two sides failed to unite. Boone took that symbol he created over 40 years ago and turned it into a challenge for the approximately 1,500 people in attendance.

“Remember when I said the world is waiting for those of you who are positive and not afraid to take the plunge for what you believe in,” he said. “Now is your chance – you on this campus must find ways for people of different races, religions and cultures to just somehow talk to each other.”

Reporting by Lars Hanson