A group of University of Texas at Austin athletes are calling on their institution to change the school spirit song from the “The Eyes of Texas” to one without racist undertones.
“The Eyes of Texas” which plays at football games and other sports events at the university was once performed at minstrel shows.
Minstrelsy was founded on the comic impersonation of racial stereotypes, specifically targeting people of African descent, and included white performers in blackface.
A two-page letter to the university was shared by dozens of Longhorns athletes on their social media accounts.
Among all issues which the Texas athletes want to be resolved, their request to drop “The Eyes of Texas” got the most chatter.
What alumni are saying
“I generally think history is history and it doesn’t need to be changed,” said Houstonian Leslie Siller.
“Athletes they make a lot of money for the university period so it’s the least they can do is compromise or work with them,” said Houstonian Toya Martin.
“It’s going to be uncomfortable for some of us on both sides. It’s not going to be easy,” says UT alum Rick Harsch.
Rick Harsch is a former president of the UT Alumni Association, the Houston Longhorn Club, he’s served on the Exes of Texas board and the Chancellor’s Council.
He believes students and the university will come together in agreement.
“I’m hopeful our university and its leaders are going (to) visit it and dig down deep into it and we come up with some leadership and some meaningful changes,” Harsch said.
“I think if the student-athletes are willing to put their body on the line game in and game out and practices and they are willing to be a part of the change then it’s a beautiful thing,” added Houstonian Demarcus Forest.
Here’s what people against the change had to say about the athletes’ request:
“Why cancel Eyes of Texas? You don’t like it? Does it offend you? Then go to the nearest exit and don’t come back!”
“Scholarships can be taken away, there are plenty of talented young athletes out there that will play for your university without forcing you to do these things. These athletes want to stand up for their rights, stand up for yours too.”
“STOP THE MADNESS! Leave the song alone and STOP renaming EVERYTHING! Instead educate people STOP ERASING History and Traditions!”
“Absolutely NOT! It’s a tradition that has lasted a whole lot longer any of us have been alive with both black and white supporters. Why mess with something that’s good because some say they are offended. I would say the same for all colleges and universities. This is ridiculous!”
“Rename buildings. Maybe. Drop “The Eyes of Texas,” NEVER.”
“The eyes of Texas is a long time tradition and has nothing to do with black people...Please don’t do away with it.”
Here’s what others had to say in response to those against the change:
“For everyone who’s in favor of keeping the song. What you’re really saying is “Who cares if the song has racist origins! So what if it was made to intimidate slaves! Who cares if it was performed in black face! Who cares if it’s insulting to black students! They need to get over it. We love the song and we want to keep our racist traditions, it’s our history and we’re proud of white supremacy. Deal with it!””
“This has been talked about for years at the University, it’s just now been put into national news. Renaming buildings isn’t forgetting history, that’s why we literally study it at UT and two, it’s up to the new student body whether or not they wish to have the Eyes of Texas still as the tradition, they pay just as much tuition, if not more, than alumni do.”
“Change the names. It should have been done years ago. Nobody cares about losing supposed fans. I’m alumni...you disappointed folks prob couldn’t get in even if you wanted too.”
“I do see where players are coming from and I don’t disagree with them,” says Peter Zylman, sophomore student at the University of Texas.