AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas chapter of the NAACP and a group of students have filed a federal civil rights complaint against the University of Texas for their continued use of the school song “The Eyes of Texas,” which features racist elements in his past.
The September 3 complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleges that black students, athletes, gang members, teachers, and alumni are being violated by the Civil Rights Act and a hostile environment of the campus for “offensive,” “disrespectful,” and “aggressive” use of the song.
The NAACP and students want the federal government to withhold university funding.
Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and a law graduate from Texas, criticized Texas on Wednesday for requiring the Longhorn band to play the song at athletic events and expecting athletes to stop and sing afterwards. of the games.
“It’s like slave owners who make slaves dance to entertain themselves,” Bledsoe said.
The song was played before and after Saturday’s football win in Louisiana-Lafayette and received a full-throated chant by a crowd of about 80,000. Many Texas players gathered near the band during the song, as has been the tradition for decades.
First-year football coach Steve Sarkisian has said the team will sing the song.
The complaint, which includes statements from several anonymous students, alleges that those who oppose the song on campus are harassed and that black students feel “humiliated” every time it is played or sung.
A university spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The Eyes of Texas” was written in 1903 and has a history of performances in minstrel shows with musicians often on black faces. For decades, it has been sung after games and graduation ceremonies, and is a popular song at weddings and even funerals.
Last year, a group of athletes and students asked the school to stop the song amid protests over racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
School president Jay Hartzell, with the full support of the university’s governing board, said the song will be kept and that a school research group determined there was “no intention racist “behind.
In April, the university announced that the school would create an independent band in 2022 for students who do not want to play “The Eyes of Texas.”
The complaint argues that forcing students to oppose the song to form a different band is an attempt to create a “separate but equal” alternative that violates constitutional rules of egalitarian protection.