May 24, 2024 - News

Remembering Los Seis de Boulder 50 years later

A concrete sculpture featuring the faces of three people.

A close look at the Los Seis de Boulder sculpture by Jasmine Baetz at the University of Colorado Boulder campus. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

Florencio Granado never met his father. He only knows him through the stories people tell about him.

The elder Florencio Granado was one of six Chicano activists and CU students who were slain in two separate car bombings in Boulder in 1974 — on May 27 and May 29.

  • They were christened as Los Seis de Boulder: Granado, Francisco Dougherty, Una Jaakola, Reyes Martínez, Neva Romero and Heriberto Terán.

Why it matters: The bombings are a reminder of the struggle Chicanos endured seeking representation — even now, as the story rises from relative obscurity.

Catch up quick: The violence took place at the height of the Chicano Movement, a civil rights effort for equal access to educational, economic and social opportunities for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

  • Students in Boulder occupied a building on campus, advocating for fellow Chicano peers.
  • A federal grand jury reviewed the bombings at the time, but no one was indicted. The case remains unsolved.

Zoom in: Florencio's dad was depicted as a gifted speaker whose words stirred people's hearts. His late mother, Georgiana L. Archuleta, described his father as her true love.

  • "I'm honored to be his son," Granado told us during a historic archival event focused on Chicano History at the University of Colorado Boulder, which featured items donated by his mother.

The latest: Boulder will host a public art dedication on Tuesday for a new piece commemorating Los Seis on the corner of 17th and Pearl streets, marking 50 years since the slayings.

The intrigue: For years, the painful episode wasn't widely known outside activist and academic circles. Most CU students, even those from Colorado, learn about the bombings only after arriving on campus.

  • "It's really, really sad, honestly, because these were students — these people were my age," Leo Ramirez, a 20-year-old sophomore from Frisco, told us during the archival event.
  • Ramirez says the university is partly to blame for hiding the events. Other on-campus groups blamed "white supremacist forces" for its erasure.
  • "While we can't change the past, we can affect the future," the university says in a statement, noting its commitment to creating an inclusive environment on campus.

A memorial was set up on campus in 2019 as a result of the renewed focus in recent years.

  • Alumnus Jasmine Baetz's ceramic and concrete sculpture on Los Seis sits outside Temporary Building No. 1 — the building students occupied in 1974.
  • Following demonstrations seeking to make the work permanent — it was initially displayed temporarily — the university added the piece to its collection in 2020 to ensure it's preserved.

Between the lines: Tania Hogan, who leads a multicultural center on campus, worked with families of the victims to establish a scholarship this year.

  • Six students showing social justice activism and advocacy in their communities will receive the scholarship, like Jasaline Amaya, a sophomore from Aurora.
  • She called it an "honor" to be among the inaugural class, and says receiving it helps embolden her goal to become an immigration lawyer.

What's next: Granado says the recent attention on Los Seis helps spread the story, but he's still skeptical that the families of victims will ever see justice.

  • "Hopefully one day maybe the truth will really come out — or it won't because it won't," Granado said.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.

More Denver stories