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More Inclusion, Support for UT Black Students, But “Eyes of Texas” Stays

The “Eyes of Texas” will remain the school song, but numerous other changes are being made at the University of Texas in an effort to increase diversity, inclusion and support for Black students.

The actions, outlined by Interim UT President Jay Hartzell in a letter, come in response to a formal appeal from Longhorn athletes for changes to address racial injustice on campus. 

“During the past month, I have listened to scores of students. I went into these conversations understanding that UT has worked hard to become a more diverse and welcoming place. I came out of them realizing there is still more work to do — and this starts and ends by creating an environment in which students are fully supported before, during and after their time at UT,” Hartzell said.

UT’s changes include: 

  • Renaming the Robert L. Moore Building to eliminate the reference to the racist math professor
  • Honoring Heman Sweatt for his work to integrate UT
  • Honoring the Precursors, UT’s first Black undergraduates
  • Honoring first Black Longhorn letterman Julius Whittier
  • Renaming Joe Jamail Field in honor of Heisman Trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams
  • Adding plaques and educational information about the names of various buildings and locations on campus
  • Expanded recruitment of Black students
  • Recruiting a more diverse faculty
  • Refocusing and sharpening implementation of the university’s diversity and inclusion action plan
  • Expansion of the UT Austin Police Oversight Committee
  • Owning, acknowledging and teaching about all aspects of the origins of “The Eyes of Texas.”

“‘The Eyes of Texas,’” in its current form, will continue to be our alma mater,” stated Hartzell in his letter. “Aspects of its origin, whether previously widely known or unknown, have created a rift in how the song is understood and celebrated, and that must be fixed. It is my belief that we can effectively reclaim and redefine what this song stands for by first owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent.”

“Together, we have the power to define what the ‘Eyes of Texas’ expect of us, what they demand of us, and what standard they hold us to now. “The Eyes of Texas” should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values. But we first must own the history. Only then can we reimagine its future, and I look forward to partnering with our campus community to do just that.”

The “Eyes of Texas” began as a satirical rendition of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee’s saying “the eyes of the south are upon you,” which was made popular on the UT campus by former university president William Lambdin Prather. The lyrics were combined with the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” which began as an insult to Black railroad and levee workers. 

The timeline and additional details about the UT plan will be released in the coming weeks and months as projects get underway. 

Written by RA News staff.


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