SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – When the UT Longhorn Band takes to the stands in the stadium again, the drum major won’t conduct the alma mater song “The Eyes of Texas.” Ally Morales told the Dallas Morning News she and some of the other band members have a problem with the racist history of the song and she doesn’t feel comfortable leading it.
“It’s not ultimately about the song, it’s about ingrained institutionalized racism that frankly, in invisible form, takes the image of a school song,” Morales told the Dallas Morning News.
One of the early presidents of the University of Texas, William Prather, coined the phrase, “The eyes of Texas.” It was his take on a phrase from Robert E. Lee when Lee served as president at Washington College, which is now Washington and Lee University. Lee would often say,”The eyes of the South are upon you.”
A couple of students later wrote the song and used the tune “I’ve been working on the Railroad.” Up until the 60s, the song was performed by White singers and dancers in blackface at minstrel shows that were fundraisers at the University of Texas.
In June, more than two dozen student athletes posted a letter on social media calling on the university to address several concerns, including changing the names of some buildings on campus named after men linked to the Confederacy, establishing a permanent exhibit focusing on the history of Black athletes in the Texas Athletics Hall of Fame, and replacing “The Eyes of Texas.
The UT President agreed to make several changes after meeting with athletes and student groups, but he did not replace “The Eyes of Texas.”
Morales told the Dallas Morning News,”If the one thing that unites us all is a song, I feel like we’re missing the real values of the university and the institution that we love so much.”