The school is also creating a “to be named” university band for students for fall 2022 that will not play the alma mater or school fight song. That band will also earn academic credit, but the school did not say where or when it will perform. It will be designed “with a focus on leading/directing bands and community engagement," the school said.
"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,” Hartzell said.
Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas chapter of the NAACP and a Texas law school graduate, sharply criticized the decisions to keep playing the song and create a separate band. He said that will set up the traditional Longhorn Band as a “privileged group."
“People who exercise their constitutional right to not participate in a racist song, and are therefore denied an opportunity to play in a special band, that's just going to be an issue that's going to have a disparate impact on African-American band members,” he said. “It’s like telling folks you have to engage in a racist activity and if you don’t, you can’t be in the band."
Written in 1903 and sung to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “The Eyes of Texas” is an old standard in Longhorns country. For decades, it has been sung after games and graduation ceremonies, and is a popular sing-along at weddings and even funerals
It has also been a sore subject for decades for some minority students. The title was taken from a favored saying of a former school president who had reportedly mimicked remarks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
In March, the NAACP joined a group of Black state lawmakers and students in criticizing the school report’s and said they would keep pressing the university to drop it.