The University of Georgia’s marching band is going to end the tradition of performing the song “Tara’s Theme” from the film “Gone With the Wind” as the post football game concert opener.
The university’s Redcoat Band’s acting director, Brett Bawcum, said in a statement that the tune has been now replaced with “Georgia on My Mind,” which was popularized by Ray Charles before it was designated the official state song of Georgia. According to Bawcum, the band has been discussing whether to stop playing “Tara’s Theme” for months, but the “current social climate has highlighted the urgency of addressing it.”
“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,” he wrote, emphasizing that the band has a history of removing “Dixie” from its name and taking the song out of its setlist, a decision aimed to create more “sense of belonging” in Black band members at the time.
“I value tradition, but I value creating a welcoming environment much more,” Bawcum wrote.
Composed by three-time Academy Award winner Max Steiner, “Tara’s Theme” is hailed as one of the most recognizable scores in the history of American cinema. It is heavily featured in the 1939 epic “Gone With the Wind,” which is centered around a family that lives on Tara, a fictional plantation in the state of Georgia.
The movie has recently been under fire, because of its depiction of Southern plantation life before the Civil War, as well as the ensuing post-war nostalgia. Amid nationwide unrest after the death of George Floyd, HBO Max pulled “Gone With the Wind” off its streaming library, but later said it would return but will include an introduction “placing the film in its multiple historical contexts.”
Meanwhile, the decision to temporarily remove “Gone With the Wind” from HBO Max added to the movie’s popularity. Following HBO Max’s announcement, the movie quickly topped the “movie and TV” charts on Amazon, as people who wished to see the film rushed to the shopping website to get their own copies of DVD, Blu-ray, and the 70th Anniversary Edition.
“Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality,” University of Chicago film professor and TCM host Jacqueline Stewart, who will be will be adding the historical commentary for “Gone With the Wind” on HBO, wrote in a CNN op-ed.
“If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off,” she said.