Members of the University of Texas student body gathered with state officials, university faculty and civil rights leaders to discuss the need for the University of Texas to reconsider its continuation with the Eyes of Texas as its school song.
Judson Hayden, President of the Black Student Band Members Association; Zion James of the Black Student Alliance at UT; Anthony Collier, who is the President of the Student Bar Association at the University of Texas School of Law and President of the National Black American Law Students Association were the students in attendance.
State Representative Ron Reynolds, NAACP President and UT alum Gary Bledsoe, Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder, Houston NAACP President Bishop James Dixon and Reverend Lamont Ross of the Marsalis Avenue Church of Christ in Dallas and also an alum of the University, were all in attendance in support of the students.
Hayden, Collier and James talked about how the students were unified in opposition to the song and not moved by the University 24-member report on the song.
Reynolds, who is Vice-Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and Caucus Liaison with the Texas NAACP, spoke about the Caucus engagement of the University to cooperatively bring about a change in the song along with other matters of policy that would make African Americans feel more welcome at the University.
Professor Alberto Martinez, a UT Professor of History, spoke about the incompleteness of the report by the 24-member committee and said he established that the song definitely was connected to Robert E. Lee, was intended to be racist and was created in one day for a minstrel show scheduled to take place in 1903.
Rev. Ross talked about the hypocrisy of the use of the song and the message it sends to Black students; while Bishop Dixon raised questions about how different the response would be if the import of the lyrics were anti-white instead of anti-Black.
According to President Linder, who made a correlation with other things that are now occurring locally and nationally, said there was long-term damage being done to the City of Austin.
The delegation also presented a strong letter of support of the song change initiative by Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.