Traditions

From Bevo to Big Bertha, Texas loves its traditions. Not only can they bring the Longhorn community together, their history serves as a reflection of UT’s past. Explore linked resources in this section to learn more about the racial and gendered history of UT’s traditions and homages, such as Round Up, campus statues, and building names.

UT Round Up

Members of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity march in the 1955 Roundup Parade wearing blackface and presenting a "Natives" themed float that won most comical that year

Roundup

Homecoming event with a history of marginalization

Roundup started as a fun homecoming event in 1930. However, over the course of its history into present day, multiple incidents of racism, such as blackface, racist parade floats, and other insensitive actions, have been documented. Learn more here.

World's Largest Texas Flag

A Texas game day staple

Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity that runs the World's Largest Texas Flag on the field during UT football games, began as an all-male organization in 1935. It opened its ranks to women when it inducted its first co-ed pledge class in 1976. Learn more here.

Confederate statues

Tributes to prominent figures in the South's racist past

From 1933 to 2015, a statue of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, stood next to the steps leading up to the plaza in front of the UT Tower. In 2017, the university removed four more statues, including three depicting Albert Sidney Johnston and Robert E. Lee, Confederate generals, and John H. Reagan, Postmaster General of the Confederacy. Learn more here.

"The Eyes of Texas"

Alma mater with racist roots

"The Eyes of Texas" was first performed in 1903 by students wearing blackface as part of a minstrel show during a period of rampant anti-Black sentiment. Its refrain, "the eyes of Texas are upon you," comes from a popular saying of former UT President William L. Prather, who adapted it as a great admirer of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who was known to say "the eyes of the South are upon you." Learn more here and here

Building names

Racism ingrained in campus spaces

Buildings on campus have long had names reflecting UT's racist past. Littlefield House was built by George Littlefield, a Confederate major, slaveowner, and UT regent. Painter Hall is named for a former UT president who rejected a Black applicant, Heman Sweatt, from the UT law school because of Sweatt's race. Robert Lee Moore Hall honors a professor who refused to let Black students into his class, and Creekside Residence Hall used to be named Simkins Hall, after a KKK Grand Dragon. Learn more here

 

Residences and Academic Buildings are not the only ones with complicated pasts. "The Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium" is named after the legendary football coach who was also one of the last in the nation to allow black students on his team. His reputation is allegedly one of the reasons that led to his retirement." Learn more here.

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