Texas Student Athletes Ask for Changes to 'The Eyes of Texas'
As conversations about racial justice continue to take place across the college football landscape, Texas receiver Brennan Eagles took to Twitter with a letter and a list of suggested changes for both the university and the athletic department.
Among the suggested changes making the most buzz currently on social media is the changing of "The Eyes of Texas".
The group suggests changing the song or no longer requiring athletes to sing along when it is played.
The song, which is played before and after ever Texas football game, has been the subject of scrutiny in recent weeks as its origins have come to light.
It was first played at a minstrel show in 1903, where performers sang the song in blackface.
The letter is just the most recent example of players speaking their minds on the issues of racial justice in recent weeks.
On June 4, players marched from campus to the State Capitol in their first public appearance in nearly three months.
Members of the team kneeled for nine silent minutes, symbolic for the amount of time a Minnesota police officer was kneeled on the neck of George Floyd.
Floyd died after repeatedly telling the officer, Derek Chauvin, that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin has since been fired and charged with second-degree murder, and the three other police officers involved have been fired and charged with aiding and abetting murder.
Before that receiver Eagles took to social media to say he may sit out the season unless some changes are made in the way people of color are treated.
“Okay so for all my brothers out there that are student athletes, do you really think athletics should be a man focus right now during this time that we live in? At the end of the day if that is the main focus i [sic] find you blind to the fact that your platform can change this. Thousands of people come to watch for Entertainment, revenue is built from that, money is generated from us. If it wasn’t for athletics we would’t have coaches/trainers. Doctors wouldn’t perform as many surgeries, etc. the list goes on. I’ll be damned if you think I’ll play Another snap with the platform i have that effects majority of people that contribute to the sport who don’t actually play. Know your value is all I’m saying. Athletics brings people together all over but at the end of the day I’m not going to play another snap knowing what’s going on in our society due to color and the system being broken… i just can’t…….let’s look at the bigger picture. Don’t care if you yellow or blue that goes for every athlete/Supporter out there.
Eagles was one of many Texas players to retweet the SAAC's letter.
Here is the letter in full along with the list of suggested changes.
“The recent events across the country regarding racial injustice have brought to light the systemic racism that has always been prevalent in our country as well as the racism that has historically plagued our campus. We aim to hold the athletic department and university to a higher standard by not only asking them to keep their promise of condemning racism on our campus, but to go beyond this by taking action to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and the black community that has so fervently supported this program. On behalf of the UT student athletes, we ask to have the following issues addressed through implementation or a plan for implementation at the start of the fall semester. We will continue to practice, workout, and participate in all required team activities in preparation for the upcoming season, but with an official commitment from the university we will not be participating in the recruiting of incoming players or donor-related activities. We are asking our fellow student athletes to stand with us.”
Here is a list of the suggested changes the group would like to see.
- The renaming of buildings: Robert Lee Moore Hall, Painter Hall, Littlefield Hall (to include the patio cafe and fountain, James Hogg Auditorium (to include the permanent removal of the James Hogg statue
- The replacement of statues with more diverse statues on campus designed by artists/sculptors who are people of color
- The inclusion of modules for incoming freshmen discussing the history of racism on campus (ex. Texas Cowboys) and providing racial injustice awareness
- An outreach Program for inner cities (Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio)
- More diversity in The Hall of Fame to include: permanent black athletic history exhibit
- The UT Athletics Department to donate 0.5% of their annual earnings to black organizations and the BLM movement
- The renaming of an area of the stadium after Julius Whittier, the first black football player at UT
Changes regarding the entire black community at UT
- The replacement of The Eyes of Texas with a new song without racist undertones (lifting the requirement of athletes to sing the song)