SAN ANTONIO - Since six years ago, the "Come and Take It" rallying cry has echoed from the stands during UTSA football games.
The university’s tradition to display a giant Come and Take It flag and fire a cannon during the fourth quarter was meant to inspire fans and challenge opponents.
Until Tuesday, when UTSA President Taylor Eighmy announced he was ending the tradition and removing the phrase from the university’s merchandise, building and field.
In an email, Eighmy explained the decision, writing in part, "…Over the last decade, the phrase has become increasingly affiliated with cultural and political issues beyond its traditional historical context… Many of these organizations have values and agendas that differ significantly from ours and our clear focus on excellence in intercollegiate athletics and higher education…"
The Austin NAACP said it supports the change.
"I think it's refreshing, given the current environment in this country, that a university of education will say, 'Look, this is not constructive. It might offend people. We have a very diverse body of students here. And it's just not useful anymore,'" said Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder.
UT system board chairman Kevin Eltife said he’s disappointed with Eighmy’s decision.
In a statement, Eltife wrote, "…The Board of Regents does not support abandoning traditions and history that mean much to students, alumni, and other Texans…"
"So in other words, if history offends people because it's a tradition you keep it? That makes absolutely no sense," Linder said.
A replica of the original "Come and Take It" flag hangs in the Texas Capitol. It's a reminder of the Battle of Gonzales in 1836 during the Texas Revolution against Mexico.
The original flag was created by a group of Texans who were fighting off Mexican forces with orders to take back their cannon. Texas won the battle and the phrase and flag lived on as a symbol of defiance.
Eltife is now asking UT system leaders to create policies to "…ensure that the governing body of the UT System will have the opportunity in the future to be consulted before important university traditions and observances are changed."