Before the West Coast
A Sports Civil Rights Story
STORYLINE: The story of Coach Otis Washington and the St. Augustine High School football program of New Orleans during the thirteen years following the 1967 federal court ruling that approved St. Augustine’s competition in Louisiana’s all-White high school sports association. From 1969 to 1979, Coach Washington drove the Purple Knights football team to seemingly impossible success that inspired African Americans and helped to integrate and transform the City of New Orleans.
SYNOPSIS: In 1967 St. Augustine won the right to compete in the Catholic football league in Louisiana. As the only black team in an all-white league being good wasn’t enough: they had to be the absolute best. From 1968-79 the team, led by head coach Otis Washington, battled biased calls and outright racism to become the number 1 ranked team in the state. They revolutionized the game with new defensive and offensive plays-some of which were precursors to the West Coast offensive style – and invigorated New Orleans’ black community during a time when civil rights and integration were hugely contested issues. Using archival footage and interviews with former players, coaches, and community members, Before the West Coast chronicles the powerful and largely successful history of the St. Aug football team, and the people who made it happen. – Amber Love, NOFF Staff