Black Texas student-athletes make formal request for changes on campus in Austin

Rickey Brown

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Several black athletes at the University of Texas released a list of requests of the university on social media ranging from renaming buildings on campus, diversifying the Hall of Fame and replacing “The Eyes of Texas.” 

“We aim to hold the athletic department and university to a higher standard by not only asking them to keep their promise of condemning racism on our campus, but to go beyond this by taking action to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and the black community that has so fervently supported this program,” the statement wrote in part. 

The statement calls for Texas to rename Robert Lee Moore Hall, Painter Hall, Littlefield Hall and the James Hogg Auditorium, and add more diverse statues on campus created by more diverse artists. Additionally, it calls for incoming freshmen to have education on the history of racism at Texas, and an outreach program to inner city communities. 

In the athletic department, the athletes call for a permanent black history exhibit in the Texas Hall of Fame, the naming of a section of Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium to include Julius Whittier, the first black player in Texas football, and for 0.5 percent of annual earnings to be donated to black organizations. 

Finally, the note asks for UT to consider changing The Eyes of Texas. When the song was written in 1903, then-president William Prather named it that in reference to “Remember, the eyes of the South are upon you,” a common refrain used by Robert E. Lee, who was president of Prather’s alma mater. Additionally, the song was first performed as part of a minstrel show featuring performers in black face. 

Multiple black student athletes at Texas reposted the statement, including football players Brennan Eagles, Caden Sterns and Joseph Ossai, basketball player Jase Febres, volleyball player Logan Eggleston, runner Mikenna Robinson, soccer player Emma Regan and many more. 

The note calls for a plan of implementation by the start of the fall semester in August. Athletes will participate in all required team activities, but will not participate in donor or recruiting events without a commitment. 

The note comes a week after Texas football held a team march to the Texas State Capitol to honor George Floyd. 

“I think this is a great time for young people in our community to express themselves and take action that leads to positive change in our society,” said Texas coach Tom Herman on a Thursday media call. “I’m extremely proud of them of what they’ve done to this point, but perhaps even prouder of the continuation of that mindset of being active in affecting change.”

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