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One of the Best! This movie is on TWM's short list of the best movies to supplement classes in United States History, High School Level.

SUBJECTS — U.S./1945 - 1991, Diversity, & Virginia;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Breaking Out; Friendship;
        Teamwork; Leadership; Male Role Model;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness;Respect;
        Responsibility; Citizenship.

Age: 11+; MPAA Rating -- PG for thematic elements and some language; Drama; 2000; 113 minutes; Color. Available from Amazon.com.

Description: This film chronicles true events that occurred during1971 in Alexandria, Virginia, when the school board came under court order to integrate both faculty and students in the public schools. At the time, high school football was the city's most popular sport. The Titans become a model of integration for a city in troubled times.

The film combines four stories: (1) the time-tested formula of the triumph of an underdog sports team; (2) the friendship between the two coaches, the black head coach and his white assistant, despite the fact that many thought that the white coach's experience and years of service meant that he should be the head coach; (3) the friendship of two players, Gerry Bertier, the white team captain, and Julius Campbell, a talented black player; and (4) the story of a racially divided team coming together and playing as a unit despite the racial hatred roiling the community around it. The story of the underdog sports team is an invention of the filmmakers. Once the team coalesced at training camp, they were favored and had only one close game in their regular season. The important stories, those of the two coaches and the two players are true although many specific facts may have been supplied by the script writer. The two coaches were lifelong friends, as were the two players. The team pulled together despite the racial tensions.

Rationale for Using the Movie: Remember the Titans is useful in clarifying the shifts in attitudes and the various personal decisions that were an important part of the progress in the early days of the process of integrating public schools in the South. Students will see how the combination of self sacrifice and self interest motivated many of the people who struggled through these troubled times.

Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Students can exercise writing and research skills through assignments at the film's end which include the role played by both high school and professional sports in the Civil Rights Movement.

Possible Problems: Minor racial violence is shown. There is a quick non consensual male-to-male kiss, not properly introduced or followed up, that may leave the audience confused. A major character is critically injured in a car accident.



Rationale and Objectives
Possible Problems
Parenting Points

Using the Movie in Class:
      Introduction to the Movie
      Discussion Questions


What's True and What's Fiction

      In General
      The Sports Story
      Integration: The Coaches
      Integration: The Players
      Integration: The Team

The Titans 20 to 30 Years Later

Additional Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)

Additional Assignments

Other Sections:
      Building Vocabulary
      Bridges To Reading
      Links to the Internet
      Selected Awards & Cast

MOVIE WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students' minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project and Movies as Literature Homework Project.


Introduction to the Movie:


Before showing the movie, consider telling students the following: The stories of the coaches and the two players are reasonably accurate portrayals showing how these individuals rose to the occasion and became friends. The story of the successful integration of the team as a whole has been simplified and enhanced by the filmmakers, but it still captures the spirit of the team and of its time.
For a detailed description of what is accurate and what was changed in the adaptation of this story to the screen, see the Supplemental Materials for this Guide.
Discussion Questions:

After the film has been watched, engage the class in a discussion about the movie.

1.   How did the individuals portrayed in this film make racial integration work? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. A good discussion will include the following concepts: It took respect for others, the ability to communicate, the moral courage to change when necessary, and a commitment by the coaches not just to win football games but also to help the players mature. These coaches understood that their primary responsibility was to help prepare their players for life as adults.

2.  What is the significance of this exchange between the Bertier character and the character of his mother. Bertier: "Mom, just get to know him." Mother: "I don't want to know him." We do not know if this exchange really occurred, but it exemplifies one of the themes of the movie. What is it? Suggested Response: Hatred and prejudice are born of ignorance. If you get to know someone, hatred and prejudice are harder to maintain.

3.  What was most difficult for the players to accept in the changes the team had to face? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. Adjusting to a new coaching style, accepting lesser roles on the team, having to work closely with team members very different from themselves and fear of failure may all have worked against a quick adjustment.

4.  What factors were helpful in terms of players and coaches adjusting to the changes? Suggested Response: Answers will vary. Earned respect, the necessity of working together in order to win, and the power of individual personalities all served to help both players and team mates to cooperate.

For additional discussion questions, click here.



Any of the discussion questions can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:

1.  Research the actual history of the Titans football team and write a report detailing what is correct about the movie and what is incorrect. Use at least four sources.

2.  Research information about the significance of sports in the Civil Rights Movement. Present your findings in an oral report to the entire class. Consider the integration of professional as well as school associated teams in your analysis.

3.  Research information to create a sports integration time line that begins with the first blacks admitted to the ranks of professional sports and continues until today. Prepare a power point presentation for the class that shows the results of your research. Suggest specific concerns about aspects of sports that are not yet fully open to all races.

4.  Write an opinion essay on what you see as the most important element in integrating two of the following institutions: public schools, sports teams, work places, the military and the courts. Consider the force of law, the concern for the common good, a sense of justice and even self interest as possible factors.

For additional assignments, click here.


Click on the link for a discussion of Segregation and Its Corrosive Effects in the Learning Guide to "A Force More Powerful".

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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Parenting Points: Tell your child that the story is accurately portrayed as to the personal relationships between the coaches and the players. Point out how the courage of both adults and young people shown in the film was a major factor in the long and on-going story of racial integration in this country.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See Brian's Song and Edge of America. See also movies relating to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

This Learning Guide written by James Frieden and Mary RedClay and was last updated on October 14, 2012.

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