“Unity is victory and without unity, there is no victory”

WCU hosted a legendary football coach as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. appreciation week. Herman Boone was the inspiration for the blockbuster, Remember the Titans.

Over 250 people were in attendance at the University Center at WCU. Boone became the head football coach at T.C. Williams High School in 1971, in Alexandria, Virginia. Racism and hatred were among the challenges Boone faced when he accepted the job to become the football coach at a newly segregated school.

“Those kids hated each other. They wouldn’t even sit beside each other,” said Boone.

Graduate of WCU, Candace Phillips with Herman Boone after the speech. Photo was taken by Amber Degree

During his speech, Boone spoke about different incidents that he encountered while being a coach for the Titans. Each story, though many made the audience bust a gut from laughter, were also inspiring and reflected back to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boone also spoke about the importance of diversity and how to overcome issues associated with it.

“Your way may not be the only way. Get kids to share how they feel, then there is room for change,” Boone advised.

Racial tension has been a problem at WCU, with incidents like the chalking and racial social media posts, stirring up more controversy amongst the campus. In his speech, Boone expressed that talking about the racial problems on campus instead of keeping silent, would be a step in the right direction.

Director of Intercultural Affairs, Khambrel Ward, says speakers like Boone keep students engaged.

“It’s about giving our students an opportunity to hear things first hand. Our students can really appreciate speakers, like Coach Boone, more because they were the individuals that were making the change and involved in the civil rights movement,” said Ward.

At the end of the speech, Boone was asked ‘What would be a great way for students to resolve racial tension on campus?’.

“Town meetings are a great way to let everybody say what they want to. It’s good to get it all out there.”

Graduate of WCU, Candace Phillips says the speech moved her in many ways.

“It felt so good to see white and black students at an event like this. His speech gave me chills, I felt inspired because he made me feel as if everything was going to be okay, maybe not today, but one day,” said Phillips.

Boone will go on to motivate young people on the importance of peace and solidarity.

“Unity is victory and without unity, there is no victory,” said Boone.