What is ‘The Eyes of Texas’? Alumni, donors threaten to pull donations if University of Texas drops 'racist' song

Hundreds of alumni and donors have come together to send emails to the president of the University of Texas over the controversial ‘The Eyes of Texas’ song

                            What is ‘The Eyes of Texas’? Alumni, donors threaten to pull donations if University of Texas drops 'racist' song
Sam Ehlinger #11 of the Texas Longhorns was left alone on the field for the playing of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ (Getty Images)

AUSTIN, TEXAS: The controversial ‘The Eyes of Texas’ song is again facing scrutiny as the latest report on March 1, 2021, suggests that University of Texas alumni and donors threatened to stop making donations and supporting the university financially. The report further indicates that the obtained documents demand that the university’s president, Jay Hartzell, take a stronger stance supporting ‘The Eyes of Texas’ song, originally composed in 1903.

In the recently held football game between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma, the host lost for the third time in a row. After the match, Texas-quarterback Sam Ehlinger stood alone on the field for the playing of ‘The Eyes of Texas’. The rest of the team quickly retreated from the field, which has now angered the alumni and donors.


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A Texas Longhorns flag in Dallas, Texas (Getty Images)

The emails obtained by The Texas Tribune show how hundreds of university alumni and donors have come together to show their disdain over the fact that Ehlinger was left alone on the ground. The alumni demanded that the school stand up to “cancel culture” and firmly get behind the song.

The email reads, “It is disgraceful to see the lack of unity and our fiercest competitor Sam Ehlinger standing nearly alone. It is symbolic of the disarray of this football program which you inherited. The critical race theory garbage that has been embraced by the football program and the University is doing massive irreparable damage to our glorious institution and to the country. It has to stop.”

"My wife and I have given an endowment in excess of $1 million to athletics. This could very easily be rescinded if things don’t drastically change around here," wrote another donor in October 2020.


What is ‘The Eyes of Texas’?

‘The Eyes of Texas’ is the famous school song of the University of Texas at Austin. It is believed that the song’s original lyricist John Sinclair took the tune of ‘The Eyes of Texas’ from the original folk song, ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad’. Sinclair wrote the lyrics as per the request of Lewis Johnson, who was the program director of the Varsity Minstrel Show that raised funds for the university track team in 1903.

‘The Eyes of Texas’ lyrics are said to be intended to make fun of University President William Lambdin Prather. Confederate Army Commander Robert E. Lee would frequently say, “the eyes of the South are upon you.” Prather was known for including similar warnings in his speeches, like saying, “The eyes of Texas are upon you”, which meant that the state of Texas was watching and expecting the students to do amazing things in their career.

The Texas Longhorns stand for The Eyes of Texas in Austin, Texas (Getty Images)

Lyrics of the song: “The Eyes of Texas are upon you / All the livelong day. / The Eyes of Texas are upon you, / You cannot get away / Do not think you can escape them / At night or early in the morn--/ The Eyes of Texas are upon you / Til Gabriel blows his horn.”

Even though the song is meant to be a fun song, it has created several controversies in the last couple of years. In June 2020, several players on the University of Texas at Austin football team requested that the university should replace the song with one “without racist undertones.” Later in October, the University of Texas at Austin band decided it would no longer play the song. The athletic department stated that it would play a recorded version of the song.

In July, Longhorns player Marqez Bimage issued a letter to the school on behalf of the University of Texas student-athletes body urging the song’s replacement. In the letter, he also demanded the removal of several on-campus nods to Confederate leaders. Many students had spent months protesting and petitioning the school to get rid of the song, which they deem racist. There were even talks that the school would drop playing the song, but several notable regular donors have demanded the school keep playing it. The obtained emails show that 75 people explicitly threatened to stop supporting the school financially.

"I spend my money, you do what I want"

It is known that the song is deemed racist by many and when the report surfaced that the alumni would cancel the funding if the song is canceled, several took to Twitter to share their disdain. One user wrote: "A @TexasTribune article showed emails from alumni threatened to pull donations if 'The Eyes of Texas' was replaced. Some of those emails were racist. One said the song should remain because @UTAustin's Black student population is small. @thedailytexan". Another wrote: "Hi. Former 'irresponsible and uninformed student' here, a regular donor to @UTAustin, who will never give another dime to the school if it doesn’t respond to calls to replace the racist & creepy 'Eyes of Texas' song. @TexasExes". Another user wrote: "How UT Austin is dealing with (or sidestepping, it seems) the Eyes of Texas issue feels lacking. The alumni emails are pathetic. 'I spend my money, you do what I want!' is the attitude they have." Another wrote: "It hurt to find out that 'The Eyes Of Texas' has racist origins. Seriously... Looking at some of these racist a**holes comments and emails.... CANCEL THE F**K OUT OF IT. It makes me so sad I have tears in my eyes at work. F**k these racist prick and change that shit yesterday." Another resonated a similar opinion: "These emails from @UTAustin alumni & donors are disgusting - ashamed to have attended the same university as them They further demonstrate the need to get rid of the racist Eyes of Texas song".






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