The University of Texas has appointed a 24-person panel to undertake a critical analysis of “The Eyes of Texas,” the Longhorns’ school song that is played before most athletic events.
Richard Reddick, associated dean for equity, community engagement and outreach in the College of Education, will chair the committee. Other members will include former athletes, current athletes, band members, professors and the school’s historian.
Reddick told the Austin American-Statesman in an interview that he wants to explore how the song’s origins, as well as how it was used by the school over time.
According to the American-Statesman, the song was written more than 100 years ago and was initially meant as a humorous jab at then UT president William Lambdin Prather. The song was first performed at minstrel shows by white singers in blackface.
“Step one is to get the truth out. That I think is largely our starting point,” said UT president Jay Hartzell. “I think the next several months presents an opportunity to bring some things out in the open to have those conversations.”
The committee held its first meeting last week.
“I think we’ve taken an interesting, I think, visionary approach, which is to sort of grapple with the difficulty,” Reddick said. “These are complexities that don’t really lend themselves to a simple, binary, yes-no, for-against kind of thing. It’s circumstantial, it’s it depends on the context.”
UT football players sparked outrage this season by refusing to sing the song, which led to the formation of the committee. Eventually, enough members of the Longhorns’ band objected to playing the “The Eyes” that band leaders had no option but to sideline the tune. The band has since said it will not play the song for the remainder of the 2020 season.