Posted on March 11, 2021

Committee Finds ‘No Racist Intent’ Behind Texas School Spirit Song

Associated Press, March 9, 2021

The University of Texas’ long-awaited report on ‘The Eyes of Texas’ has found that the school song has “no racist intent”, but the school president said athletes and band members will not be required to sing or participate when the song is played at games and campus events.

The 58-page report, released Tuesday, was commissioned last year by school president Jay Hartzell after a group of Texas athletes, most notably football players, demanded the school drop the song as part of racial injustice protests.

The issue erupted into a tempest of fan outrage when football players chose to leave the field instead of taking part in the traditional sing-along with fans after several games. Some fans sent emails to Hartzell warning the school would lose financial donors.

A 24-person panel charged with studying the song’s origins, lyrics and history determined it was rooted in a message of accountability and striving toward excellence.

“These historical facts add complexity and richness to the story of a song that debuted in a racist setting, exceedingly common for the time, but, as the preponderance of research showed, had no racist intent,” the report states in its executive summary. “‘The Eyes of Texas”’ should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values.”

Written in 1903 and sung to the tune the tune of ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad’, the song is an old standard in Longhorns country. {snip}

It has also been a sore subject for decades for some minority students. The title was taken from a favored saying of a former school president who had reportedly mimicked remarks by Confederate general Robert E Lee. The song was routinely performed by musicians in blackface at minstrel shows.


Hartzell reiterated the song will continue to played at games and events.


One of the few issues still to be determined was campus participation, particularly among Longhorns athletes. New football coach Steve Sarkisian has previously said his team will sing the song “proudly” after games per tradition.

The report included a recommendation that students not be required to sing the song.


The panel that studied the song was comprised of campus professors, staff and historians and representatives of student and band alumni groups. It also had one current athlete, band member and cheerleader. {snip}


The panel’s 40 recommendations include teaching the song’s history at student orientation events, and allowing new alternative versions composed or performed by black musicians.