Longhorn Band Required to Play 'Eyes of Texas' in 2021

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Members of Texas's Longhorn Band will be required to play "The Eyes of Texas" at school events beginning this fall, the university announced on Wednesday.

Those who do not wish to play the song will be eligible to join an unnamed university band beginning in the fall of 2022.

The debate surrounding 'The Eyes of Texas' began in June 2020, when a group of athletes called on the university to change the school song

'The Eyes of Texas' was used in minstrel shows featuring characters in blackface dating back to the early 1900s, and the song additionally alludes to a phrase from Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

Several Texas football players did not participate in postgame renditions of 'The Eyes of Texas' in the fall, as did a significant portion of the Longhorn Band. The Longhorn Band didn't play 'The Eyes of Texas' during a game against Baylor in October 2020 due to a lack of available instrumentation.

The push to end 'The Eyes of Texas' was met with swift pushback by university donors and alumni, including former Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy. Numerous emails uncovered by the Texas Tribune detailed criticism of Black athletes from Texas donors.

"It's time for you to put the foot down and make it perfectly clear that the heritage of Texas will not be lost," a donor who graduated in 1986 wrote, according to the Tribune. "It is sad that it is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it's time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor."

Texas officials released an internal report regarding the origins of 'The Eyes of Texas' in March. The report claimed that while the song was written in a racist environment, it has “no racist intent." That notion was later disputed by Texas history professor Alberto Martínez.

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