Viewpoint - August 31, 2011

Letter: Inspiring memories of Coach Parks

I met Coach Parks in 1967. We were coming out of heavy times as racial riots were happening my freshman year in 1966 at Menlo-Atherton High School.

In the movie, "Remember The Titans," Denzel Washington played the football coach at a recently integrated high school in 1971. The school board was forced to integrate. They combined the white school and the black school into one. The same thing happened with Coach Parks and he did it with gusto.

In many ways his life is a bridge between his African-American heritage and the affluent "white" community around him. He has built bridges of understanding and compassion in innumerable situations, from his racially tense and often violent high school, to his own prejudiced neighborhood and interactions between races, religions, ages, and rich students and poor.

He continued to reach out to the Mexican-American community where he was fed and cared for as a child and to provide food and clothing to many migrant field workers. He was a living example of "giving in action;" giving all that he had, asking nothing in return. Although his story has special appeal to African-American and Latino audiences, it will also appeal to every person interested in bridging gaps between races, generations and economic groups. Coach's story is universal and his message transcends the boundaries of race, ethnicity, geography, and culture. He will be missed.

Ted Rudow III, M-A alumnus, Palo Alto


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