QUIET COURAGE: The James Curtis Owens Story
Alabama Public Television Education

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Posted Nov 19, 2014

QUIET COURAGE: The James Curtis Owens Story

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Premieres Wednesday, November 26 at 7:00pm


Fairfield High School’s James Curtis Owens was all-state in football, basketball and track. He had the speed to run the 100-yard dash and the strength for shot put. When Auburn assistant coach Jim Hilyer recommended recruiting him to play for the Tigers, however, coach Shug Jordan warned him there might be backlash because James Owens was black.


QUIET COURAGE, a film by Best Gurl, Inc. in conjunction with Auburn University, chronicles the story of Auburn University's first African-American scholarship football player.  QUIET COURAGE premieres Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 7:00pm on Alabama Public Television.

In the midst of desegregation efforts at universities across the South, and after having been recruited by more than 60 other universities, Owens became "the first" at a Southeast Conference School in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia when he enrolled at Auburn University in 1969. The film chronicles Owens' time at Auburn, beginning with his recruitment and initial reluctance to attend Auburn, his success on the field culminating with Auburn’s 1972 team known as “The Amazins,” his shortcomings in the classroom and finally his acceptance as a beloved member of the storied football program.

His bold presence and kind-hearted demeanor proved crucial to Owens' success at Auburn; but his successes were not without challenges. Through firsthand interviews with teammates, and stories shared by Owens himself, "Quiet Courage" presents meaningful lessons in leadership, self-determination, perseverance and courage. His story of triumph in the face of adversity underscores that great leaders often lead without loud fanfare, but rather with quiet courage.

Through dedication and determination, the university Owens loved so dearly learned to love him back, said Thom Gossom, Owens' friend as well as his teammate and roommate at Auburn. His legacy is permanently etched in the history of Auburn University football, and his name forever in the hearts of Auburn football fans.

QUIET COURAGE is being broadcast as part of Alabama Public Television’s on-air fundraising efforts. Filmmaker Thom Gossom, James Owens and many other players and coaches that appear in the film will be interviewed during the course of the evening.  

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Auburn coach Shug Jordan with team.

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Filmmaker Thom Gossom produced QUIET COURAGE.

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Football player James Owens is honored at Auburn University ceremony.

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