Written by 8:09 pm What we reviewed

Woodlawn

Woodlawn is a faith-based drama inspired by true events at a Birmingham, Alabama high school in 1973. The movie focuses on how a sports chaplain helped convert nearly the entire Woodlawn High School football team to born-again Christianity after it was desegregated, helping the players deal with racial strife on and off the field.

At Woodlawn High, a white school of 2,500 students is forced to accept 500 black students bussed in from poorer parts of the city. The result is volatile: Black and white students and teachers eye one another warily; fights send kids to the hospital and on the football team, racial animosity is practically palpable.

Then Hank shows up. A sports chaplain who came to Christ listening to Billy Graham preach, Hank’s got a radically different message for the members of Coach Geralds’ team. A message about Jesus he begs the coach to let him share.

An hour later, the entire team has answered Hank’s challenge to surrender their lives to Christ, and to live differently on the field and off. It’s a ripple of redemption and racial reconciliation that starts slowly at first. But before long, the ripple expands into a wave that rolls off the Woodlawn gridiron and into the heart of racially fractured Birmingham, thanks in large measure to a courageous black running back named Tony Nathan.

The movie has a very positive message – beyond the faith and inclusion – parents, teachers and mentors working together for a higher purpose and for love beyond themselves.

Love for a child, love for the game and love for God can transform young people under their care and bring about change in society. It’s a great movie for teaching character that families, teachers and coaches need to see.

Rating: 8/10

Christ & Co.

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