Brother Herman Boone (Tau Psi)
Herman Boone was head coach of a high school football team that won a state championship in 1971. And while there have been thirty more state championships since then, what makes his so special?
In 1971, racial tensions ran high in Alexandria, VA, as three schools were newly integrated to form the T.C. Williams High School. It was from this union that the Titan football team was created. The former rivalries between the schools coupled with the strain between the black and white players resulted in a team that was far from united.
Tensions only escalated when Boone, assistant coach of the former black T.C. Williams High School, was named head coach of the Titans, passing over Bill Yoast, the local favorite and successful head coach of the former white Hammond High. Yoast's supporters were angered by Boone's appointment, which was seen as a gesture of goodwill to the black community.
Remarkably, the two coaches were able to put aside their prejudices, and in doing so they unified their players to form a team whose common vision was to respect each other and win football games. At the same time, through the game of football, Boone and Yoast were able to help their small Virginian community put aside their intolerance and join together to support their children. The Titans became one of the best teams in Virginia, compiling a 13-0 record and went on to win the state championship.
In 1971, Boone faced the challenge of a lifetime, and his inspirational story was captured in the Disney film Remember the Titans starring Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington. Titans screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard said in a Washington Post interview, Herman is Shakespearean. The beauty of Herman and what he did was that it was sort of unconscious. If you'd ask Herman when he took over T.C. Williams, 'Were you trying to make a point with these kids?' he would have said, 'No, I just want to win football games.' He had to get the players to get along to win football games. And it worked for just that reason-because it wasn't self-conscious. He did something quite beyond what even he realized."
The 1971 Titans have a website, http://www.71originaltitans.com/, which Boone encouraged those in attendance to visit. It contains biographical information about players and coaches, many photos from both then and now, information about contacting the players, and information about the team’s impact on integration nationwide.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which is a game between high school All-American seniors from the East and West side of the country, has its MVP award named after him. Boone is half Eastern Cherokee, and has participated in coaching a Native American version of the game. His mother was born on a reservation in North Carolina. (wikipedia)
Boone became a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. through the Tau Psi chapter of North Carolina Central University. He is is now retired but continues to motivate and inspire audiences with presentations on respect, teamwork, community involvement and importance of character, among others.
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