Former All-SWC Linebacker Weighs in on 'The Eyes of Texas'

Chris Dukes

As athletes across the country continue to find their voice, speaking out against social and racial injustice across the country, the University of Texas has become a particular catalyst for such changes. 

Several Longhorns past and present have weighed in on the experiences of athletes of color on the Forty Acres and suggested changes to the culture of the university to create a more inclusive environment. 

One of the most talked-about subjects through these discussions has been the song "The Eyes of Texas". As more have discovered the song's questionable origins. 

The song was written to the tune of "I've Been Working on the Railroad", which disparaged black laborers who worked in railroad and levee camps in the 19th century. 

The Texas version of the song was written in 1903 and in its public debut came from white singers performing the song in blackface. 

While the song evolved beyond its problematic origins, it's still a sore subject for some in the University of Texas family. Many have weighed in with suggestions to help make the song more inclusive. 

Former Longhorn Brian Jones is the latest to do so. The All-Southwest Conference performer is currently a radio host and analyst for CBS Sports. He recently penned a column for the Houston Chronicle with an idea to help turn the school's traditional song into "an anthem of accountability".

Here's an excerpt from his recent column:

To mark the moment of the song’s transformation from school song to anthem of accountability, I hope the team will not only sing along with their “Hook ’em Horns” hand sign, but do so kneeling, signaling not submission but instead taking a reverential pose to convey their embrace of the solemnity of the moment. The idea of a stadium full of Longhorns players and fans kneeling together is almost too moving to imagine.
With that new underpinning, the song will take on even greater meaning, whether it is sung at sporting events or Longhorns family reunions and weddings. We are fond of saying that “what starts at the University of Texas changes the world,” and we can prove it with this move toward a new era of justice and equality for all.
I’ve always loved the song’s ending, when we shout, “The Eyes of Texas are upon you until Gabriel blows his horn.” In the coming days, when we sing that together, we will be reminded that a struggle as old as humanity can be brought to a heavenly conclusion on earth in our lifetimes. That will be a legacy that any old athlete, any human would be proud to have.

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