Austin, TX – The University of Texas band will not participate in the Baylor football game Oct. 24 over a dispute about whether to play a traditional song that has social justice issues.
The students are also demanding that 0.5% of athletic department earnings be donated to Black Lives Matter.
The song in question is “The Eyes of Texas” and, according to The Daily Texan, “was originally performed at a minstrel show with performers in blackface, and the opening verse is a saying inspired by Confederate general Robert E. Lee.”
At University of Texas football games, the song is played to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”
During Black Lives Matter protests this summer, student-athletes and other University of Texas students called on the University to drop the song.
University of Texas President Jay Hartzell said the school band was never expected to play the Baylor game, according to The Daily Texan. Hartzell said “The Eyes of Texas” song has been played at previous games this season and will continued to be played.
The Daily Texan reported that the song was played over loudspeakers but not by the band thus far this season.
The college band took an internal survey over the playing of the song. Based on that survey, there was not enough members to perform in the game vs. Baylor. Many band members had said they would not play the song due to its racist history, according to The Daily Texan.
The song has become an issue since the football team didn’t stay on the field for the singing of the song the first two home games this season, according to Fox News.
University of Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said that he expects the school’s teams to “stand in unison” during the song and met with the football team to talk about it, according to Fox News.
“Standing for ‘The Eyes of Texas’ is a statement of something – school spirit, loyalty, solidarity,” University of Texas law professor emeritus David Anderson said, according to Fox News. “But deliberately not standing, or leaving the field, is a statement just as surely. It’s protected speech.”