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NAACP, University of Texas students file complaint against 'Eyes of Texas' as controversy continues

The Longhorn Band played its school alma mater at Texas' first football game just after the NAACP filed a complaint against the school's support for its song. (Texas Longhorns/Twitter)

In the latest play on the "Eyes of Texas" chessboard, the NAACP of Texas, its University of Texas chapter and five anonymous UT students have filed a civil rights complaint against the school for creating a "hostile environment" for Black students as the school continues to back its controversial alma mater.

According to The Texas Tribune, the complaint says that the continued playing of the alma mater and failure to address racial harassment against the song's opponents and Black students violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The school decided that the song had "no clear racist intent" after research in the spring and continues to support the playing of the alma mater. But those who disagree cite that the song debuted at a minstrel show where students likely wore blackface.

In response to continued pushback while facing pressure from angry donors supporting the song, the school decided to create a second band in which students do not have to play the song. The complaint states that this decision "violates equal protections afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment" according to the Tribune.

A member of student activist group Cops off Campus that staged a protest against the song at the school's annual "Gone To Texas" event, said that the separate band decision wasn't a solution to their demands. The student wished to remain anonymous to avoid backlash.

"The establishment of separate bands, really only solves part of the issue," the member said. "If a band still exists, and the school song is still 'The Eyes of Texas,' and it's still being played, then nothing is fundamentally changed. So it's not really any meaningful compromise."

The complaint states that continuing to keep the song "despite its racially offensive origin, context and meaning" leaves many Black students uncomfortable and unable to fully enjoy their college experience. In the complaint, five anonymous students said they felt ostracized by the university for not agreeing with the playing of the alma mater.

The NAACP filed the complaint one day before the Longhorns' first football game and a few weeks after the first protest of the song this semester, when a few dozen student activists protested the song at the school's annual "Gone to Texas" event.

The complaint and protests this semester show that the "Eyes of Texas" issue is far from over.

"If they don't take our demands seriously, we're going to continue to disrupt their events," the member said.


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