UT Austin Grapples With Racist Legacy of Alma Mater Song


A survey of University of Texas at Austin band members found some students are unwilling to play the traditional alma mater song due to the song’s ties to minstrel shows where performers wore blackface, the Texas Tribune reported, drawing on reporting from the student newspaper, The Daily Texan.

The survey found band members are “evenly divided” about playing the song, but responses from certain instrumental sections would have prevented the band from playing it during last weekend’s game.

President Jay Hartzell said last week that the university would play a recording of the song during its Saturday game against Baylor University and that the song “will continue to be played at future games and events.” He said the university had not planned on the band performing live during Saturday’s game.

“We knew this summer that, as we make our campus a more welcoming place, we would face many hard conversations,” Hartzell said in a statement. “I remain truly optimistic that we will find ways to join together around our song, which has been so positive for so many Longhorns over the past 120 years.”

Dozens of student athletes posted a statement last summer asking the university to discontinue use of the song, one of a list of demands for how the university can better support Black students. Hartzell and other administrators have defended playing the song, pledging that the university will “own, acknowledge and teach about all aspects of the origins of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ as we continue to sing it moving forward with a redefined vision that unites our community.”

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