School Integration in Remember the Titans

         Remember the Titans, directed in 2002 by Boaz Yakin, is the true story of school desegregation in 1971. Two schools consolidate in Virginia to form T.C. Williams High School. This also meant that the football team would be comprised of whites and blacks. The black coach, portrayed by Denzel Washington, is chosen over the white coach to head the team. Racial tensions are high, and the integration takes place only because of a federal mandate.

         Integrating schools was the most radical part of the Civil Rights movement. The 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling ended legal segregation, but it was not until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that schools started to see a change. Up until 1964 the South saw events such as the Little Rock confrontation. This happened when bigoted officials called upon the state's National Guard unit to block admission of black students. Another extreme case occurred in Prince Edward County, Virginia, when citizens abandoned the public school system to open private schools, which did not allow blacks to attend. In 1964 only 2.3 black children attended public schools.

         From then on the federal government used funding termination enforcement provisions. This meant that, if schools did not integrate, they would lose federal funding. Because of this, the figure jumped to 32 by 1968. The South had become the most integrated part of the country by the 1970's. The South boasted a 45% inclusion of black students.

         The athletes in Remember the Titans faced the biggest challenge of their life. They had to change the way they had been raised. They were forced to look past a person's color and lay down their pride so they could open up their minds to a new way of thinking. School integration not only affected the students but also had an impact upon the surrounding community. The Titan football team led their town by example as did other schools that integrated in the South.

Stephanie Cain

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