AUSTIN, Texas - The University of Texas at Austin's official alma mater song "The Eyes of Texas" has been at the center of controversy for quite some time due to its racial ties.
The fall semester has officially begun, and with the first home football game around the corner, several Longhorn band members are still saying they won't be performing the song.
For years "The Eyes of Texas" has been criticized for its connection to minstrel shows with characters in blackface in the early 1900s.
"To me, the song did mean something, to me, it didn't mean nothing, a lot of the people on campus say the song never made them feel unified but from a band perspective it's different we play that song with our peers," Longhorn band member and founding member of LH Blacks, Judson Hayden said. "Seeing so many in solidarity with us that don't want us to play it is very nice."
In June, dozens of UT student-athletes released a statement calling on the University and Texas Athletics to address racial injustice, and on their list was "The Eyes of Texas."
Hayden says the Longhorn band is the biggest organization that most frequently plays the song for the largest amount of people, and no matter which direction the university goes, he won't play it, even at UT's first home football game.
"Even if it's being conducted or we're told to play it, I won't be, and I'm sure that's the case for many others," Hayden said.
LH Blacks says they're hopeful for change that extends far beyond the fight song. "Knowing that people aren't going to play it no matter what the University, community or anyone says, our drum major is planning on not conducting it, conversations have now turned into what can we do from here, what can LH Blacks do for the community, current and incoming blacks," Hayden said.
The University responded to questions with a statement that reads:
"UT has not issued, approved or received any recommended new policies beyond what was discussed in the July announcement. President Hartzell spoke with and listened to Longhorn band members in developing the diversity and equity plans he shared with the community on July 13th. University leadership will continue to meet with the band members as the University seeks to own the history and redefine the meaning of "The Eyes of Texas"."