As controversy persists at the University of Texas around the school song, “The Eyes of Texas,” the school has offered a potential solution by creating a second band.
The school announced Wednesday that there will be an additional band beginning in fall 2022 that will not play the school’s alma mater or fight song. Members of the Longhorn Band, however, will still be required to play the alma mater, according to a release from the Butler School of Music.
“We need to celebrate and nurture what makes UT special, and the Longhorn Band is one of those great organizations that shape our campus culture, elevate school spirit and provide amazing opportunities for our students,” said University of Texas at Austin President Jay Hartzell in a statement. The release said Hartzell approved the plan.
“Our multi-million-dollar commitment over the next five years will support the Longhorn Band in restoring – and even going beyond – its former glory, while also providing strong support for our entire portfolio of university bands,” Hartzell’s statement continued.
The movement against “The Eyes of Texas” began in earnest in June 2020, when Texas athletes posted a statement to Twitter calling for sweeping changes in the athletic department and at the university.
Among the requested changes was to replace “The Eyes of Texas” with a new song, citing the alma mater’s “racist undertones.” The statement also called for an end to the requirement of athletes singing the song.
The Longhorn Band opted against playing the song for the final two home football games of the 2020 season, but the song was still played from loudspeakers at the games.
In March, Texas released a report on “The Eyes of Texas,” finding that the song’s first public performances did occur in a minstrel show with performers likely wearing blackface. But the committee studying the song didn’t find “racist intent.”
“These historical facts add complexity and richness to the story of a song that debuted in a racist setting, exceedingly common for the time, but, as the preponderance of research showed, had no racist intent,” the report reads. “’The Eyes of Texas’ should not only unite us, but hold all of us accountable to our institution’s core values.”
The report recommended that students should not be required to sing the song, however. That recommendation could have led to Wednesday’s announcement of a second band, seemingly offering musicians a choice.
Members of the Longhorn Band will still be required to play the alma mater while performing at sporting events and other high-profile functions, such as graduation.
The new band, which has yet to be named, will not be required to play the school song. The new band will also “have opportunities to perform at official university and sporting events and other venues,” the release read.
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