Texas NAACP files federal complaint over 'The Eyes of Texas' song

AUSTIN (Texas) -- A group of students and the Texas chapter of NAACP have filed a federal civil right complaint against the University of Texas over its continued use of "The Eyes of Texas," a school song that has racist elements.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Sept. 3 complaint alleges that Black athletes, students, and band members, as well as alumni, are being subjected in violation of the Civil Rights Act, and that there is a hostile campus climate due to the "offensive," “disrespectful” and "aggressive” use of the song.

Students and the NAACP want the federal government not to fund the university.

Gary Bledsoe is the president of Texas NAACP. He is also a Texas law student.

Bledsoe stated, "It's almost like slave owners making slaves dance for their entertainment."

A crowd of around 80,000 sang along to the song before and after Saturday's opening football season. As has been tradition for many decades, many Texas players were present near the band while the song was being performed.

Steve Sarkisian, a first-year football coach, has stated that the team will sing the tune.

The complaint includes anonymous statements from students who claim that students opposing the song are harassed on campus and that Black students feel "humiliated" when it is played or sang.

A spokesperson for the university did not respond immediately to a request to comment.

"The Eyes of Texas" was first written in 1903. It has a history of performing in minstrel shows, often with blackfaced musicians. It has been popularly sung at weddings and funerals for decades.

A group of students and athletes called on the school to abandon the song last year amid protests against racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis cop.

Jay Hartzell, the school president, backed by the university's board, declared that the song would stay. A school research panel also determined that there was no racist intent behind the song.

The university announced in April that it would create a separate band for students who do not want to play "The Eyes of Texas" in 2022.

According to the complaint, forcing students to object to the song in a different band is an attempt at creating a "separate yet equal" alternative to the one being offered. This would violate constitutional equal protection standards.