Black Leaders Demand UT Leave “Eyes of Texas” Out of Sugar Bowl

The Longhorns face the Washington Huskies in New Orleans on Jan. 1

Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian (Courtesy of Texas Athletics)

As the Texas Longhorns prepare to face off against the Washington Huskies at the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl, Black leaders are imploring UT-Austin to leave “The Eyes of Texas” out of the proceedings.

The Texas NAACP and the Texas Legislative Black Caucus issued a press release last week demanding the Longhorn Band not play UT’s spirit song at the football game due to its minstrel show origins.

“[The University] should not play or utilize this racist song in any way at the game or as part of any official festivities regarding the College Football Playoffs. That is only right, given how many African American athletes, students and their parents will be in attendance or watching on television,” the organizations’ statement said.

Black lawmakers and students have called for UT to retire “The Eyes of Texas” for years. Written by John Lang Sinclair in 1903, the spirit song’s refrain was inspired by the motto of then-UT President William Prather, taken from a phrase said to be uttered by Robert E. Lee. In 2020, university athletes signed a letter suggesting the alma mater be replaced, while members of the Longhorn Band organization LHBlacks refused to play the song during games.

That same year, UT commissioned an investigation into the song’s origins. In a 58-page report released in March 2021, the Eyes of Texas History Com­mit­tee acknowledged that it debuted at a minstrel show – where white UT students "almost certainly" performed in blackface – as a "painful reality," but found that the composition itself was not “overtly racist.”

At the time, then-Texas Law student Anthony Collier was among those who criticized UT for allowing “The Eyes of Texas” to remain a school staple. "According to the committee report, they believe they can redefine what the song stands for by acknowledging its history," he said at a March 2021 press conference at the Texas Capitol. "You can't redefine racism. Acknowledging racism is fine, but it's far from sufficient. It's not enough to only acknowledge racism – we must abolish racism."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Texas Longhorns, The Eyes of Texas, NAACP, Texas Legislative Black Caucus, LHBlacks, Longhorn Band

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