It’s football season and this Friday we’re continuing our Films That Matter series with Remember the Titans. This film from 2000 chronicles the 1971 integration of two Virginia high schools through the lens of the football team’s high stakes season led by Coach Herman Boone, ably portrayed by Denzel Washington. Small southern town politics rage as the young men on the team grapple with the implications of court-ordered racial equality. Like last week and next week, the film features true events in American history and highlights the lives of individuals who became courageous leaders while just trying to make a living.
Rights conversations have lots of entry points, and one that often goes unnoticed is the role of competitive athletics in racial understanding and social justice progress. Sports bring communities together in a way nothing else can, and the intimacy of a shared team experience can be, and often has been, transformational. Sports provide one of the few settings in life where people are truly judged on their abilities, practice improves performance, and the agenda has one item--winning. That truth created opportunities in the Civil Rights Movement. They were not perfect opportunities, and the trailblazers bore cruelty and humiliation as another day at the office, but it’s true that sports fans want one thing, and delivering it inspires love and devotion, even in unexpected places. Throughout American history, what could be accepted as normal and beneficial on the athletic field translated to normal and beneficial in other parts of daily life, creating another chink in the segregationist armor.
This event is presented in partnership with the 100 Black Men of Atlanta Football Classic and shows us how progress can play out on the field. Join us Friday night, September 23 in Woodruff Park for a free screening. Music and activities begin at 7pm and the film begins at dusk.