AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin has just released its new report on “The Eyes of Texas” alma mater, looking at the lyrics and historical use. The team of 24 committee members made up of students, employees and alumni researched the history of the song which led them “to surmise that intent of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ was not overtly racist.”
However, the committee notes that it’s “similarly clear” the cultural setting in which the song was created was overtly racist.
“The fact that the song was, for decades, sung and revered on a segregated campus has, understandably, blurred the lines between intent and historical and contemporary impact,” the committee wrote. “This complicates its understanding and explains how different people experienced the song in vastly different ways.”
After criticism over the song’s history reached a boiling point over the past year at UT, the university has indicated it hopes for this report to serve as a common set of facts Longhorns can use as they continue to put the song in context. The committee said that some of the facts and context it has uncovered “have never been systematically compiled and analyzed until now,” including facts about how the song came to be.
The committee acknowledges this song “debuted in a racist setting,” which the report’s authors suggest was common at the time the song originated in 1903. At that time, Black students were barred from attending UT; in fact, it wasn’t until 1956 that the first African American undergraduate students enrolled at and attended UT.
“The exclusion of Black students at that time presents an opportunity to think about how they and other communities of color have fought for inclusion and the work that remains to ensure all members of our community feel they belong,” the committee wrote.
Will the song remain at UT? Yes, it will. Consistent with what university and UT system leaders have been saying since July of 2020, UT Austin reiterated that the university will keep ‘The Eyes of Texas’ as its alma mater. The report notes this committee was created only to research and understand the song’s history and usage since its inception.