The Texas chapter of the NAACP, along with some students with the civil rights organization’s University of Texas at Austin chapter and a group of anonymous students have formally filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights alleging UT-Austin is creating a “hostile environment” for Black students by continuing to play the “The Eyes of Texas” alma mater song at university events.
The complaint alleges that 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.” Despite the pushback on the song, university officials have said they are going to keep the song as their alma mater, concluding in a report issued earlier this year that the song “had no racist intent.”
The complaint says the university has failed to respond to racial harassment against Black students and others who oppose the song. The complaint, which was first reported by The Texas Tribune, says Black students, faculty, staff and alumni are subjected to a hostile environment by UT’s “offensive,” “disrespectful” and “aggressive” use of the school song.
“(UT’s actions) are a violation of the university’s obligation under the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and clearly in violation of the university’s responsibility to provide a violence- and intimidation-free environment for our young students so they can pursue their education the same as others,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP.
“University students, alumni, staff and faculty who oppose the use of this racially offensive song have been disregarded and subjected to racial hostility … because the hatemongers have been empowered on UT campus and the dignity and respect for those who have different beliefs has been undermined,” the complaint says.
“The Eyes of Texas” debuted at a minstrel show in 1903 by singers who were likely in blackface, according to a UT report published in March.
Here is the song being played after the Longhorns won their home game this past wekend.
“Whenever there’s an event where it’s played, I feel uncomfortable, because it’s almost like a song of white supremacy, and it just holds all those negative connotations of the 1900s and of most minstrel shows,” Al-Nasser Lawal, president of UT’s chapter of the NAACP said. “That’s the imagery that comes to my mind.”
Some student campus tour guides went on strike earlier this year with a list of demands that included a call to remove the song’s lyrics from a display in the Admissions Welcome Center.
The complaint says the tour guides should not be required to work in a “racist or retaliatory environment” and are entitled to the benefits that UT provides to all students.
“The students suffered financially and emotionally as a result of this ordeal and the recent decision, although a step in the right direction, does not repair these harms,” the complaint says.GOOGLE NEWS.