University of Texas committee: ‘The Eyes of Texas’ was not made with racist intent
A University of Texas committee has found that the ‘Eyes of Texas’ song was not made with any negative intent
A University of Texas committee has found that the controversial song “The Eyes of Texas” was not made with any racist intent, ESPN reports.
What’s going on?
“The Eyes of Texas” has been under scrutiny since last year when questions arose about the song’s ties to racism, which I wrote about for the Deseret News.
The University of Texas formed a committee to investigate the song, and the findings were revealed in a 58-page report on Tuesday. The committee said there was no racist intent when the song was created.
However, the committee said in the findings that the song’s “first public performance was likely by performers in blackface during a minstrel show.”
- “These historical facts add complexity and richness to the story of a song that debuted in a racist setting, exceedingly common for the time, but, as the preponderance of research showed, had no racist intent,” the report said, according to ESPN. “‘The Eyes of Texas’ should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values.”
Controversy over the song began back in October 2020 when the Longhorn marching band decided not to play it for a game against Baylor University, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
- UT students said in a survey at the time that they refused to play or sing the song due to racist connotations, Daily Texas reported.
According to Fox News, the song — which is sung to the tune 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.”
University of Texas students called for the school to drop the song altogether during Black Lives Matter protests in summer 2020.
In response, the university said it would improve Black student enrollment and recruitment efforts but it would keep the song due to its history and context, the Texas Tribune reported.
- “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.”