By Lyndsay | October 31, 2010
On Tuesday some friends and I went to hear Coach Herman Boone speak about leadership in Montante. He was the coach for the football team, the Titans, in Virginia. The movie Remember the Titans was made after their championship and to show how difficult integration was in the 70’s.
I was absolutely blown away by Coach Boone’s speech. He came across as a leader the minute he stepped on stage and introduced himself. He was also pretty funny especially when he told us that he asked Denzel Washington, who plays him in Remember the Titans, to come and talk with him about leadership. When Coach Boone talked to Denzel’s wife however, she told him Denzel didn’t need to come because the real Coach Boone was better looking. So I don’t really know if he was serious about Denzel, but he made it clear that if we believed what Denzel’s wife said to him, we should really be attending Niagara University (obviously funny because of our rivalry). I thought that was pretty bold of him, but it had the whole place cracking up.
He started off his speech telling us to look at the people around us, introduce ourselves, and shake hands. After this was all said and done he said, “Look! You all are fine, you shook a black persons hand and a white persons hand, and your hands did not rot off!” This started him off talking about his football players, black and white football players, who were integrated into one high school, and forced to play on the same football team. Not only were they different races, but also they were past rivals because they were from different high schools. Coach Boone knew they had to come together as a team to succeed as a team, so he didn’t care if they didn’t like each other or even like him, but they just needed to play as a team if they wanted to be the best. He told us that the problems of racism were not only going on between the players, but the coaches as well. The white coaches and the black coaches were not happy about the mix but once again, coach Boone acted as a leader, put their races aside, and came together to coach a great football team.
Coach Boone cared about all his players and their will to succeed. At times, it was hard for him to overcome racism but as a leader he was strong and brave enough to do it. A girl from the audience asked him what his thoughts on racism were at the time, and how difficult it was for him. He told a story of when his daughter was born in 1963 looking light because she was jaundice. The doctor told him he needed to go and get certain milk for her to restore normal coloring, however the store was a few hours away from his home. He drove there anyway and was stopped on the road by the KKK. When he rolled down the window the white male saw he was black, asked him where he was going, but Coach Boone did not respond pleasantly. Because of his response the white man beat him up and sent him on his way. He went on to say something that shocked all of us. Coach Boone told his story to Dr. Martin Luther King, who was shocked of what had happen to him. After that he marched with Dr. King just a few years before his assassination. Basically his belief on segregation was that it was not needed and unfair to everyone because throughout his entire speech he told us all that no matter what race or color, we all deserve respect.
I think having Coach Boone here to speak about leadership was a great idea and definitely eye opening to past racism and injustices towards others of a different race. I learned a lot and really enjoyed listening to Coach’s story.