Herman Boone, the football coach portrayed by Denzel Washington in the 2000 Disney film "Remember the Titans," will speak at 7 p.m. tonight in the J.W. Jones Student Union Ballroom at Northwest Missouri State University.
The lecture is open to the public, and tickets are free.
"We are a big football campus, so with him being a very famous coach, what better person to bring in?" said Erica Martin of Northwest's Student Activities Council, which is sponsoring Boone's appearance. "Coach Boone has a message about diversity as well as an inspirational story of going for your goals no matter the circumstances."
In 1971, Boone was named head coach of the Titans football team at the newly integrated T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. Old rivalries between merged schools coupled with racial turmoil had left the team deeply divided.
The situation became even more tense when Boone, who is black, was selected head coach over popular white coach Bill Yoast.
In the event, the two coaches were able to lay aside any personal resentments, unify their players and field a team that compiled a 13-0 record on the way to a state championship.
Now retired from coaching, Boone remains a popular speaker frequently invited to share his views on the importance of diversity, acceptance and teamwork to success on the field and in life.
"Diverse, unfocused boys who were unwilling to talk to each other broke the mold in the state of Virginia because they found a way to accept their teammates as equals at a time when it was neither popular or, in many cases, safe," he told an audience at Providence College in Rhode Island.
"That brave mentality started them on a journey of a lifetime, and once they decided to become a team they battled under extreme circumstances until reaching the pinnacle of high school football."