Does UT’s ‘Eyes of Texas’ Create Hostile Environment For Black Students?
The Texas NAACP along with a group of anonymous students have filed a federal civil rights complaint against the University of Texas claiming the school is creating a "hostile environment" by continuing to play "The Eyes of Texas".
The complaint, filed Friday morning, alleges Black students have been denied full benefits of Longhorn student life, because the song is an official part of the university, “despite its racially offensive origin, context and meaning.”
The song premiered at a minstrel show in the early 1900s where students likely wore blackface. Despite pushback, university officials have said they are going to keep the song as their alma mater, concluding in a report issued earlier this year the song “had no racist intent.”
Gary Bledsoe, the president of the Texas chapter of the NAACP, said they were unsuccessful working with the university to eliminate the song leading to the complaint.
They decided to file the complaint because students said the campus climate surrounding the song had gotten increasingly tense throughout the spring semester. Al-Nasser Lawal, a UT-Austin senior and president of the UT-Austin chapter of the NAACP, said Black student groups also met with administrators to discuss their concerns with the song without success.
“As Black students, we kind of feel as if it’s not like our voices are heard,” Lawal said in an interview. “The main objective of the administration and the campus is just to appease their wealthy donors so that they can continue to get that funding, and that they don’t really have our best interests at heart.”
University law professor Sanford Levinson told KXAN-TV that there are those who "would withdraw their contributions if the university got rid of the song".
Despite pleas this past summer by some Longhorn football players to drop "The Eyes of Texas", university president Jay Hartzell announced the school has no plans to do away with the song.
So, what is your opinion on this story? Do you agree with the complaint filed by the NAACP, or do you feel "The Eyes of Texas" does not create a hostile environment for black students? We would like to know what you think. Tell us on Facebook or on our station app.