Dave Martin/Associated Press
The University of Georgia Redcoat Band announced in a letter from acting director Brett Bawcum that it will no longer play “Tara’s Theme” as part of its traditions:
“We are ending performances of ‘Tara’s Theme,’ effective immediately, and replacing it as our signature with Georgia on My Mind. Though the tradition has been under discussion for months within the band, the current social climate has highlighted the urgency of addressing it and made me conscious of the message that could be interpreted by delay. To be clear, the issue with the tradition is not the motivation of those who have embraced it, but rather the possibilities it may limit in those who haven’t. I value tradition, but I value creating a welcoming environment much more.
“I love the Redcoat Band. But it is incomplete. It’s past time that we made it right.”
Bawcum pointed to the band’s decision in 1971 to remove the word Dixie from its name as an example of progress it has made in the past.
Dave Wilson of ESPN noted “Tara’s Theme” is the opening music of the movie Gone With the Wind, which takes place in the antebellum South. Wilson also pointed out HBO Max removed the movie from its library and said it will bring it back with the proper “context and framing.”
The University of Georgia also recently announced it created an advisory group to review whether it should rename buildings at the school.
The band’s decision comes at a time of great national reflection with much of the focus on systemic racism and police brutality following the killing of George Floyd on May 25.
Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck as the latter pleaded for his life and said he could not breathe. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The killing has sparked worldwide protests against police brutality and racism. A number of professional and college athletes have raised their voices and taken part in the protests, including coaches and athletes at the University of Georgia.
Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald noted head football coach Kirby Smart joined other Bulldogs coaches, athletic director Greg McGarity and deputy athletic director Darrice Griffin in a video and said, “We will not be silent and we are committed to healing together. For you, we remain committed to creating an environment where everyone feels valued, seen and heard.”