King celebration to feature ‘Remember the Titans’ coaches

The former high school football coaches whose shared story inspired the film “Remember the Titans” will headline this month's remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at BGSU.

The University will celebrate King's legacy Jan. 26 with “An Evening with Coach Herman Boone and Coach Bill Yoast,” beginning at 7 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m. for the free, public event, and overflow seating will be available in the Union's Multi-purpose Room, where the program will be shown via closed-circuit television.

The legacy celebration is one of several campus events planned in conjunction with the Jan. 16 King holiday. Among them will be a presentation by Jane Elliott at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Union ballroom. Now a lecturer on diversity and prejudice, Elliott is the former teacher who received national attention for an eye-color lesson on discrimination she first taught Riceville, Iowa, third-graders following King's assassination in April 1968.

“Remember the Titans” will be shown at 9:30 p.m. today (Jan. 17), Friday (Jan. 20) and Sunday (Jan. 22) in the Union Theater. Bowling Green's Cla-Zel Theatre will host a 7:30 p.m. screening of the movie on Jan. 25, preceding the coaches' campus appearance the next day.

Boone was an assistant coach at all-black T.C. Williams High School and Yoast was the head coach at all-white Hammond High School, both in Alexandria, Va., when a school district restructuring in 1971 left one integrated high school—T.C. Williams. It was from this reorganization that the Titans football team was created. The former rivalries between schools, coupled with the strain between the black and white players, resulted in a team that was far from united.

Racial tensions only escalated when Boone was named head coach of the Titans rather than Yoast, the local favorite. Yoast supporters were angered by Boone's appointment, which was seen as a gesture of goodwill to the black community.

Boone, who was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 2000 Disney film, faced the challenge of a lifetime: uniting the Titans, a team divided by racial strife. The other anchor, however, was Yoast, who was ahead of the times fighting racial injustice and behind in seeking personal glory. Together, they succeeded, putting aside their prejudices and unifying their players to form a team that won a state title while gaining a common vision of respect for one another.

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Committee at BGSU is sponsoring the program with Boone and Yoast. Through the event, and others connected with the holiday, the committee's goal is “for people to remember the legacy of Dr. King, what he stood for, and how they can incorporate components of his legacy into their professional and personal lives in 2006,” according to committee member Kim Kirkland, Office of Equity and Diversity.

January 17, 2006