UT Students Launch “Behind The Tower” Website
Since the University of Texas at Austin was founded, the school has grown considerably. While many say the majority of its past is filled with positive memories and legendary accomplishments, UT also has its dark days.
August 1, 2016 will mark the 50 year anniversary of the campus’ biggest tragedy: The tower shooting. To reflect on what happened the day Charles Whitman took the lives of 16 innocent individuals, UT graduate students launched Behind the Tower.
Founded by students in UT History Department’s Public History Seminar for spring 2016, the site aims to educate the public on the events of and leading to the day that forever changed campus.
In the early morning of August 1, 1966, Whitman murdered his wife and his mother in their homes. Just hours later, he climbed up the UT tower armed with riles, a shotgun, and handguns. Once at the top, he began a shooting rampage on the citizens below for approximately 95 minutes. His shooting spree left 14 dead and 32 wounded. While Whitman was later shot and killed by Austin police officer Houston McCoy, the memory of Whitman’s deed left countess survivors whose lives would never be the same again.
Behind the Tower aims to spotlight different aspects related to the shooting. In “Ladies First,” student Keisha Lanee Brown analyzes why many mass shooters kill their wives and mothers. Similarly, “A Brief History of Mass Shootings,” by Maria Esther Hammock gives background information on some of the shooting tragedies that have shook the U.S. Also, Alejandra Garza’s “The Eyes of the World Are Upon You, Texas,” shows how Whitman’s massacre was reported. The site also includes the list of Whitman’s victims and survivor’s stories.
This recently published project seeks to bring closure to campus. The tower shooting became an unmentionable moment, hushed in the pain of the past.
As part of the grieving process, this site focuses on helping longhorns move past denial and into acceptance. They hope to showcase the information of the time and let citizens think of it what they will. Maybe it will simply serve for some to learn about a dark part of Austin’s past they weren’t aware existed. Or, maybe it will help a grieving longhorn community finally find healing after half a century of repressing memories.
To learn more, read Behind the Tower HERE.