Texas NAACP Files Complaint Over UT’s Continued Use of ‘Eyes of Texas’

In Summary

The Texas NAACP and University of Texas students are requesting the federal government withholds funding until the university agrees to get rid of the school song "The Eyes of Texas."

Six months after a report found the school song had no “racist intent,” the NAACP’s Texas chapter has joined a group of students and filed a civil rights complaint against University of Texas for continued use of “The Eyes of Texas.” 

The song is said to have a long racist history, as it was first used in 1903 as entertainment by white performers in blackface portraying negative stereotypes of Black people, per CNN’s David Williams. It’s been performed after UT games and graduation ceremonies for decades, but a number of athletes and students demanded the school drop the song following the death of George Floyd in May 2020

RELATED: ‘Speak up!’ — ‘Sesame Street’ tackles racism in TV special 

The Associated Press reports the complaint says the song’s “offensive” use has created civil rights violations and a hostile campus environment for Black students, athletes, band members, staff and alumni.

(UT’s actions) are a violation of the university’s obligation under the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and clearly in violation of the university’s responsibility to provide a violence- and intimidation-free environment for our young students so they can pursue their education the same as others,” said Texas NAACP President Gary Bledsoe, per Austin American-Statesman’s Megan Menchaca

Bledsoe slammed Texas on Wednesday, just days after the song was played twice during the football team’s season-opening game over Louisiana-Lafayette and garnered support from nearly 80,000 fans. He compared UT-Austin’s decision to allow the band to perform the song at sporting events to “slave owners making slaves buck dance for their entertainment,” per AP. 

RELATED: Dyson’s ‘Long Time Coming’ addresses history of racism in US 

The institution said in April that students who do not want to play “The Eyes of Texas” will be able to join a separate band in 2022, a move students argue is an attempt to create a “separate but equal” option that violates equal protection principles under the law. 

A committee report said the history of “The Eyes of Texas” parallels those of the United States, Texas, The University of Texas in Austin, and its bands and sports teams. 

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