Boone Talks Race at Winter Confluence

Herman Boone, whose life inspired the movie “Remember the Titans,” discussed both the challenges the black community faces and its substantial contributions to society at Georgetown University’s third annual Winter Confluence on Feb. 28.

The confluence, presented by the Lecture Fund, Georgetown Athletics and the Office of Orientation, Transition and Family Engagement also hosted Bserat Ghebremicael (MSB ’17) and Minister Wendy Hamilton, who served as an executive assistant to the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and is currently a nondenominational chaplain for Village C West. Chris Wadibia (COL ’16) introduced Boone.

Winter Confluence aims to encourage first-year students to reflect on both their Georgetown experience so far and the best ways to continue making an impact on the community.

“Winter Confluence can be summed up in three words,” Wadibia said. “Pause, reflect, progress.”

Boone began by defining the word “confluence,” just as the daughter of South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu explained it to him.

“A confluence is where two rivers come together to form one,” Boone said. “A winter confluence here at Georgetown is an opportunity for all young freshmen to reflect on where they’ve been and where they want to go in order to come together with one vision [and] one objective.”

Boone also discussed the accomplishments of the black community in the face of adversity as part of a larger dialogue about Black History Month and civil rights.

“Despite an array of obstacles, black Americans in this country have made an astonishing number of contributions to our society,” Boone said.

Boone mentioned various significant black historical figures, including John Thompson Jr., Georgetown’s first black coach, Rosa Parks, whom Boone called the mother of civil rights, Charles Drew, a doctor who pioneered the field of blood transfusions, Benjamin Banneker, who was one of the people to draw up the plans for what is now the District of Columbia, and Daniel Hale Williams, who performed one of the first successful open-heart surgeries.

In her remarks, Ghebremicael spoke of the various friendships she forged during her freshman year with both international and domestic students at Georgetown. Ghebremicael said although it was a positive experience overall, her socio-economic status was the source of some difficulty in these relationships.

“I felt excluded when my friends wanted to spend tons of money on trips that I couldn’t afford to go to,” Ghebremicael said.

However, Ghebremicael said she felt the experience pushed her to accept her identity and stop comparing herself to other students.

“Ever since I let go, I’ve learned it’s much more fun being who I am,” Ghebremicael said.

Hamilton led the closing reflection and called Boone an inspiration.

“Oh, that we could all be like him when we grow up,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton highlighted reflection as a chance for university community members to take a step back and truly consider their experiences.

“There’s a power in reflection; it’s not just a practice. It’s a power. It’s an opportunity to stop in the noisiness and the craziness and the business of the Hilltop, and say pause,” Hamilton said.

Brendan Shaw (COL ’19), who attended the confluence, said that he was glad Boone addressed a wide range of topics beyond his own personal background with “Remember the Titans.”

“I just thought it was really cool how … it wasn’t just about his experience and the Titans and the movie. He talked a lot about black history and his own experience,” Shaw said.

Christina Smith (MSB ’19) agreed, naming “Remember the Titans” as one of her favorite movies.

“[Boone] was a great speaker, and it’s always been a dream of mine to hear him speak. … It was kind of like a dream to be here,” Smith said.

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