The University of Texas’ long-awaited 58-page report on the school song “The Eyes of Texas” has ruled that it carries “no racist intent.'' Nevertheless, school president Jay Hartzell says athletes and band members will not be required to participate when the song is played at school events.
The 58-page report, released Tuesday, was commissioned last year by school President Jay Hartzell after a group of Texas athletes, most notably football players, demanded the school drop the song as part of racial injustice protests.
“This report gives us a common set of facts for more conversations,” Hartzell said of the findings presented by a 24-person panel. “It’s possible the committee could have uncovered something that could have caused us to reconsider. It did not.”
The song became an issue when football players declined to take part in the traditional post-game sing-along. The power of financial donors became involved in the controversy.
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Written more than 100 years ago and sung to the tune the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” the song has for decades been a Longhorns fixture. The argument against it is tied to its relation to remarks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and to racist minstrel shows.
From the study:
“These historical facts add complexity and richness to the story of a song that debuted in a racist setting, exceedingly common for the time, but, as the preponderance of research showed, had no racist intent,” the report states in its executive summary. “‘The Eyes of Texas’” should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values.”
The school's panel is suggesting the creation of "an institute at UT to study and encourage difficult conversations about controversial and challenging topics, including 'The Eyes of Texas.”