The movie Remember the Titans is an American sports drama released in the year 2000. The film is about an American football team from the T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. During this time period the American South had just begun to loosen its prejudices against African Americans. As a matter of fact in the movie T.C. Williams High School had only recently been desegregated as opposed to Segregated or separating African-Americans, Blacks, from European-Americans, Whites. Racism and discrimination were still deeply ingrained in society. Despite the bloody American Civil War, despite the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King jr. civil rights for African-Americans was still an uphill battle. Racial Discrimination was still a very powerful force during the time period of the movie.
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Almost from the onset the racial discrimination in the film is made obvious. T.C. Williams High School had only recently been desegregated. The white students clearly still held significant prejudices against blacks. Herman Boone, played by Denzel Washington, was a football coach presumably competent enough to be hired as a head coach for the school team at T.C. Williams. However, because he is an African-American he is derided as Coach “Coon”, “Coon” being a derogatory term for an African-American. Not only is he mocked for his race, Boone’s players almost refuse to play for him. They think he took the Head Coach position that was supposed to go to Bill Yoast, a white. In order to mollify his white players Boone offers Yoast an assistant coach position. A position that the proud former head coach is loath to accept until he learned that in a show of solidarity, the white T.C. Williams football players will not boycott the team if he doesn’t coach. From the very onset it is obvious that deep-seated discriminatory attitudes pervade among the players. While it can be suggested that their refusal to play might be a form of sympathy to jilted Yoast in the movie it is shown mostly as their unwillingness to be coached by an African American.
The next scene major scene showing Racial Discrimination is during training camp when the team if forced to wake up early in the morning in order to run. Upon running they wind up in a former Civil War battleground. Here, at least within the team, the Discriminatory edge is somewhat softened. The boys see that their ancestors fought and died to settle the issue of equality between whites and blacks. This acceptance between the whites and blacks is best seen in the growing friendship between Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell, the two predominant players from the two races. While they are competitive and at odds with each other in the beginning they soon become friends both on and off the field.
As if Racial Discrimination within the team was not bad enough even the school board of T.C. Williams presents a discriminatory front. They put pressure on Boone by telling him that he will get fired if the team loses even one game. This is a very unfair condition levied against Boone since this is his first season coaching the team and he was only now melding the mixed race team into a cohesive unit. Instead of caving in to the school board Boone exhorts his team to greater heights and goes on to sweep the season with no losses frustrating the Board’s unfair plan to ruin his career.
Then at the state semi-finals, Yoast is nominated for the state high school Hall of Fame for his amazing lossless season. However the board again acts up telling him that he will be inducted into the hall of fame once the Titan’s lose their semi-final game. Hence Yoast’s personal glory will come at the cost of the teams honor. Not convinced that Yoast would throw the game for the award, they even rig the game by making the referees call the game unfairly. At this juncture Yoast stands up to the Board’s bullying and threatens to expose them if they do not allow the game to be called fairly. It is apparent that Yoast was more than willing to sacrifice an important award for himself to preserve the integrity of the team he had worked so hard to build. The team continues to play well and Yoast never receives his award.
Clearly the racist policies of the Board and the deep-seated attitudes of the people in the movie are a major obstacle to the success of the team. Ultimately the team conquers these obstacles and achieves considerable success. Although like most movies the discrimination and obstacles shown in the movie are exaggerated for the sake of Hollywood the racial discrimination they suffered from was very real. Racial discrimination was such a deciding factor during the early days of desegregation that it was quite impressive that they were even able to overcome it.
Today the racist attitudes that they suffered are hard to imagine. Especially in major sports like the NBA and NFL where some of the best players are African Americans. The likes of Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan would never have been allowed to play if the racist attitudes prevailed to this day. Those pioneers who had to overcome the discrimination definitely deserved to be honored.
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Remember the Titans directed by Boaz Yakin.