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University of Texas student-athletes, including members of the football team, have made a list of requests to the school’s administration and athletic department that include removing “The Eyes of Texas” as the school song, renaming buildings named after racist and segregationist historical figures and donating to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Texas wide receiver Jordan Whittington shared the team’s open letter and entire list of requests:
The letter also explains why the changes are being requested, noting the following in part:
“As ambassadors, it is our duty to utilize our voice and role as leaders in the community to push for change to the benefit of the entire UT community.
“The recent events across the country regarding racial injustice have brought to light the systemic racism that has always been prevalent in our country as well as the racism that has historically plagued our campus.
“Our athletic department released a statement acknowledging these injustices and publicly supported the rights of student athletes using their voices to make change. We, as student athletes, and collectively as the University of Texas Longhorn football team, are aware that we are an athletic department made up of many black athletes, and believe that it is time we become active on our campus.”
Per the letter, the athletes will not participate in donor events or host recruits without “an official commitment from the university.”
The Longhorn athletes have committed to working out and undergoing team activities as usual but have requested a “plan for implementation” prior to the fall semester, which is scheduled to begin with classes on August 26.
As ESPN’s Dave Wilson noted, the issue regarding “The Eyes of Texas” stems from it being first used at a 1903 minstrel show that featured blackface performances.
The buildings mentioned are as follows: Robert Lee Moore Hall, Painter Hall, Littlefield Hall and James Hogg Auditorium.
The team also asked for the school’s athletic department to donate 0.5 percent of its annual earnings to black organizations and the Black Lives Matter movement.
According to Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman, that percentage would equal about $1.1 million from the school’s $223.9 million revenue base per the latest audit.
The football team has also asked that a portion of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium be named after Julius Whittier, who was the Longhorns’ first black varsity player.
Per the Associated Press, the offensive lineman and tight end played for three Southwestern Conference-winning teams from 1970-1972, earned a law degree and became a criminal prosecutor for Dallas County. He died in 2018 at the age of 68.
The team’s requests come amid the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody on May 25.
Video showed a white officer named Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, for nearly nine minutes. Floyd later died at a nearby hospital.
Worldwide protests have occurred following the death of Floyd in support of changes to eliminate systemic racism and police brutality.