The University of Texas made headlines earlier this week after the Longhorn marching band decided not to play its fight song “The Eyes of Texas” at a football game against Baylor University.
- The decision came after students said in a survey that they refused to play the song, The Daily Texas reported.
What’s wrong with the song?
Fox News reports that the song — which is sung to the sounds of “I’ve been Working on the Railroad” — “has been a sore subject for minority students for decades.”
- “The title is taken from a favored saying of a former school president who had mimicked remarks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The song was routinely performed by musicians in blackface at minstrel shows.”
Students at the University of Texas called for the school to drop the song over the summer during the Black Lives Matter protests.
The university said it would improve Black student enrollment and recruitment, but would keep the song because of history and context, according to the Texas Tribune.
- “Together, we have the power to define what the Eyes of Texas expect of us, what they demand of us, and what standard they hold us to now,” UT-Austin President Jay Hartzell said back in July, according to the Texas Tribune. “‘The Eyes of Texas’ should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values. But we first must own the history. Only then can we reimagine its future.”
University of Texas law professor emeritus David Anderson told Fox News that students are making a statement over whether they embrace the song.
- “Standing for ‘The Eyes of Texas’ is a statement of something — school spirit, loyalty, solidarity,” he told Fox News. “But deliberately not standing, or leaving the field, is a statement just as surely. It’s protected speech.”