University of Texas band won't play its alma mater because it was once performed at minstrel shows

Members of the University of Texas Longhorn band are refusing to play the university’s alma mater because of the song’s history of being performed at racist minstrel shows.

本月初, 的 band’s director asked its members to fill out an internal survey asking whether they would be willing to play The Eyes of Texasfootball game this Saturday.
“基于 (survey responses), we do not have the necessary instrumentation, so we will not participate in Saturday’s game,” director Scott Hanna said in a message obtained by The Daily Texan. Band members told the student publication that the survey asked whether they were willing to play the song, and that their answer would not affect their ability to remain in the band.
While the band will not perform the song live, a recording of the song will still air this weekend.
    The Eyes of Texas will be played this weekend as it has been throughout this seasonand it will continue to be played at future games and events,” Jay Hartzell, the university’s president, wrote in a statement. “While we would love the band to be with our fans at all our games, we never planned for them to perform live this Saturday.
    Hartzell wrote that he istruly optimisticthat the university will be able tofind waysto celebrate a song thathas been so positive for so many Longhorns over the past 120 年份。”

    What’s the history behind this song?

    It’s an understatement to say that the song’s history is closely connected to the school. The song has been played before and after every single one of the university’s sporting events since it was written in 1903.
    The song’s title is 启发 by Robert E. 背风处, who along with being a Confederate general in the Civil War was the president of what is now called Washington and Lee University in Virginia.
    “背风处, 作为总统, used to say to his assembled faculty and students, ‘The eyes of the South are upon you,'” Edmund T. 高登, an associate professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, told the Austin American-Statesman’s publication, Hook ‘Em. “什么时候 [William Lambdin] Prather became president of the University of Texas, he began saying at the end of his talks to students and faculty that ‘The eyes of Texas are upon you.'
    The song was reportedly first performed at the Hancock Opera House by blackface White singers at a minstrel show fundraiser for the university’s athletics department in the 1900s.
    The Eyes of Texasis also set to the tune of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” 哪一个 was originally known 如 “Levee Song,” which parodied black railroad and levee camp workers.

    Why is all of this coming up now?

    Recent Black Lives Matter protests, which have led to monuments with racist pasts being taken down, may have renewed interest in the history ofThe Eyes of Texas.
    夏天时, student-athletes released a joint statement, shared on Twitter, saying that they will not participate in recruitment or donor-related events if the university didn’t comply with certain demands.
    In addition to renaming several school buildings, and outreach programs, the athletes asked that the school replaceThe Eyes of Texas” 与 “a new song without racist undertones.
    作为回应, the university said it would rename several buildings, but will keep the song as its alma mater.
      Aspects of its origin, whether previously widely known or unknown, have created a rift in how the song is understood and celebrated, and that must be fixed,” Hartzell, who was the primary signer of the statement, 写. “It is my belief that we can effectively reclaim and redefine what this song stands for by first owning and acknowledging its history in a way that is open and transparent.
      CNN reached out to the University of Texas for comment.


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