“The massive effort to desegregate public schools across the United States was a major goal of the Civil Rights Movement (Library of Congress).”Remember the Titans is historically accurate. After the peak of the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1970, laws were passed to prevent segregation and discrimination based on race. However, discrimination in everyday life remained. In racially diverse areas, some were not open to change. Discrimination was prevalent in both the film and society in many ways. For example, it wasn’t uncommon for races to use different public facilities for each. Such as bathrooms, water fountains, and schools. The black people were told to sit in the back of buses and to give up their seats if needed. In 1971 an Alexandria, Virginia high school football team formed as a result of integrating an all-black and white-school leading to racial tensions and a continuous fight for equality.
Prior to this event, Brown vs Board of Education in 1954 ruled that schools that separated blacks and whites are unconstitutional. This as a result overturned the Plessy vs Ferguson decision. Racial segregation separated people into racial or other ethnic groups. This applied to public places such as restaurants, public transportation and more. The decision of integrated schools was one that had many outcomes.
At the start of integrating schools many were scared not knowing what measures the opposed side would take to stop this. Guards were placed with some of the kids, like The Little Rock Nine, in case things didn’t go as planned. The blacks were targeted during protests, had threatening phone calls, and sometimes experienced abuse as a result of those angered by integration. The integration of schools was viewed as the opportunity to have an education that was equal and the same. As a result, this process was one in many in which encouraged society that the only way to was to accept everyone and treat them as equals, like the high school football team in Alexandria, Virginia.
In Remember the Titans, Coach Boone, an African American male, was hired as the assistant football coach to placate tensions between the two races on the football team. Strain in other states arose as a result of integration of schools. All white universities in Alabama started to compete against Northern schools in the early twentieth century which ended in a refusal to play against integrated teams (Martin, Integration of College Athletics). This was one of the reasons why T.C Williams High School’s school board thought it would be better to hire an African American coach as well. This allowed comfort for the black players and further on bettered the team as one. He encourages them to work together rather than judging each other.
The movie is a accurate depiction of the hardships that occurred during the integration of between whites and African Americans.”I don’t care if you’re black, green, blue, or orange…You and you sit together”, Coach Boone says this as an attempt to inform the players having difficulty accepting each other that their all the same and not to differentiate due to skin color. In addition, Boone says “I don’t care if you like each other, but you will respect each other” on the Gettysburg Battlefield to re I’d them not to make the same mistake they did. That it’s better to unify and come together that to let destruction take over and lose.
Throughout the film, many people on the team become close over time. One night, some guys on the team, both white and African American, decided to go out for food. Their friend who was white suggested a place that was known for refusing service to black people. When arriving, the owner claims its full tonight, knowing that’s a lie he also claims he has the right to refuse service to anyone. This was historically accurate because Jim Crow laws and Black Code were rules placed on African Americans permitting what they can and can’t do and where they were allowed and not allowed.
Legally, Blacks received “separate but equal” treatment by law (PBS.org). In reality, the conditions were far inferior to those of white people. “Color Only” areas were terrible compared to the “White Only” areas. For example, they were farther away like bus seating areas, they lacked sanitation, and proved that they were not equal at all. Black codes enables some rights for African Americans such as legalized marriage and ownership of property but restricted some rights as well. Some such as testifying against whites, serving on the jury, and voting (pbs.org black codes). They were treated as less than the whites but under the law it was known as “equal”.
During this time period, African Americans were still frowned upon even after integration. For example, in this film some white men on the schools board didn’t like Coach Boone and tried to take advantage of him. They decided if he lost a game he would be fired from his position. The school board also tries to persuade co-coach Yoast that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame if he throws the game using this as another way to rid of Boone. During the game, it becomes clear that the referees are biased against the Titans.
Once this is discovered, the coaches threaten to expose the board if they don’t stop cheating. This is one in many ways in which people of color were undermined and degraded. The Little Rock Nine in Arkansas was one of the first integrated schools (Norwood, Little Rock Nine). Many African Americans saw this as an opportunity to have a better education and equality but some were shocked to still see nothing changed.Some guards that were given to the “colored” students as protection against the unknown were biased. When the person they were given to watch and protect were being targeted they didn’t do anything to stop it. Some students got badly hurt and bullied sometimes resulting in death. The movie showed how some were still racist towards African Americans and not accepting of the change that was taking place knowing that things would be different.
On the other hand, this movie was seen as a horrible depiction of integration of schools and the abolishment of segregation. Many believe that history was loosely portrayed in the movie and “depicts Alexandria as a Hollywood-stereotypical Southern town, circa 1950s (Tate, Our Journal)”. Tate believes that the movie was too involved in the sports part and didn’t include all the history and knowledge behind the integration of schools and its impacts. She believed that since Disney Productions was making the movie they more closely focused on football as an attention seeker from the audience rather than the historical background of the movie. The movie was seen as an exaggeration of emotion and the truth to Tate. This is because some scenes that were shown in the movie occurred differently or not at all.
For example, when members of the community throw a brick through Coach Boone’s living room window as a result of replacing Coach Yoast as head coach, it wasn’t a brick. In reality, it was a toilet but Walt Disney Productions were afraid of viewers being offended. Furthermore, some of the story is mis-told when one of the players, Bertier, gets in an accident and is paralyzed. In the film he gets paralyzed before the championships game and can’t play, when in real life its months later when he gets injured. In addition, some of the scenes in the film is not seen as historically accurate, for example, there is a fight scene between two football members who are mad at each other because they’re prejudiced about each others skin color.Later on two other members, one black and one white, are singing a song, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. A song symbolizing friendship by breaking down barriers in between them, which just happens to occur spontaneously due to the same liking in music. Also, the movie is viewer friendly making it not historically accurate leaving out racial slurs, stigmas and stereotypes that occurred in society at that time.
Overall, Remember the Titans was a historically accurate movie showing the effects and relationships that had occurred during the integration of schools. Discrimination still existed even after integration, protests occurred in an attempt to stop segregation, and racism didn’t stop right away. The film also portrayed the hardships that occurred and the racial stigmas many overcame. In the film, when Burtier dies, the former coaches and players go to his funeral showing their support and respect they had for him. The same respect they had given to each other accepting everyone as the same and no different.