50 years later, the memory of Los Seis de Boulder lives on

The six individuals that died in two car bombings in May 1974, referred to posthumously as “Los Seis de Boulder.” Photo Courtesy of @umasymecha on Instagram.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Los Seis de Boulder car bombings, commemorating the deaths of six Chicano activists and students from CU, who died in two car bombings in May 1974. One was on May 27th, the other on May 29th.

There’s a new memorial sculpture in downtown Boulder dedicated to Los Seis de Boulder, created by CU Boulder alumni and artist Jasmine Baetz.

Commemorative events are also taking place throughout the week. One is happening today, hosted by UMAS y Mecha, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Temporary Building 1 on CU Boulder’s campus. More details can be found at their Instagram here, or via the flyer below.

Baetz joined KGNU’s Jackie Sedley in the studio, along with Devin Encinias- an undergraduate at CU Boulder studying political science and ethnic studies, and very involved in UMAS y MECHA. They talked about the history of Los Seis, the commemorative events and memorial, and how their legacy still lives on 50 years later.

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    Untitled Jackie Sedley

Transcript:

Jackie Sedley: 8:10 on listener-supported KGNU. This is the Morning Magazine, I’m Jackie Sedley. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Los Seis de Boulder car bombings, commemorating the deaths of six Chicano activists and students from CU who died in two car bombings in May 1974. One was on May 27th, the other on May 29th, so today, 50 years ago. There’s a new memorial sculpture in downtown Boulder dedicated to Los Seis de Boulder, created by CU Boulder alumni and artist Jasmine Baetz. Jasmine is here to talk about the history of Los Seis and the new memorial sculpture. Good morning, Jasmine.

Jasmine Baetz: Good morning.

Jackie Sedley: Also in the studio with us is Devin Encinias. Devin is an undergraduate at CU Boulder studying political science and ethnic studies and is also very involved in UMAS y MECHA. Good morning, Devin. Thanks for being here.

Devin Encinias: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Sedley: So, first, let’s just start, for those who maybe don’t know, can you give a bit of history, Devin, starting with you, to what Los Seis de Boulder is?

Encinias: Um, well, to talk about Los Seis de Boulder, I have to talk about UMAS, which was the United Mexican American Students, started here at the University of Colorado Boulder in 1968, and so in 1974, there were six members of UMAS. Um, who were killed, like you previously mentioned, in those two car bombings. Um, and that was Reyes Martinez, Una Jaakola, Neva Romero, that was, Francisco Dougherty, that was Heriberto Teran, and that was, uh, Florencio Freddy Granado. And, uh, we commemorate their legacy and their political activism and the importance that they, uh, had in the community and, uh, how we celebrate and honor their legacy today.

Sedley: So one way that, this year, that legacy has been honored is through this monument, Jasmine, that you created. Tell us a bit about that.

Baetz: Yeah, so this second monument to Los Aces de Boulder is installed at 17th and Pearl in downtown Boulder. And it was created in community with hundreds of people, much like the monument that is installed at CU Boulder that was installed in 2019 that depicts, uh, portraits of these six activists, um, who we also need to remember with Antonio Alcantar, who was also injured, um, severely injured in the second explosion. And even beyond Antonio, right, there are so many people, um, who were impacted by this violence and other similar violences against Chicano, uh, activists in the 1970s in particular. So really the second monument is something that was imagined in the wake of the first and was meant to pick up on so many of these threads and these people and these relationships and shared struggles that we weren’t able to capture with the first monument. Um, and so it’s really, it’s a monument that is about solidarity, about shared struggle. One of the panels, uh, depicts, uh, a, a Black Student Alliance protest in 19, uh, 72 that was, um, attended by, uh. UMAs students. So it really speaks to the shared struggle between Black students, Indigenous students, and other students of color at CU Boulder. Um, and, and how that continues to this day. It also honors the memory of Luis Jr. Martinez, of Carlos Zapata, and of Ricardo Falcón, who were very important members of the Chicano movement, uh, who were similarly killed in, uh, uh, racist killings in, uh, killings that involved law enforcement and that were all severely under investigated, um, in their time and since.

Sedley: Artwork in public spaces is often used as a means to maintain the memory of a person or an event, to maintain that person or event in the collective consciousness of a space. Do you feel like people living in Boulder right now, this is for either of you, generally know about Los Seis? Do you feel like the memory and the history is still very much alive in the community?

Encinias: Um, well I think as a current, um, UMAS y MECHA student and, you know, the work that we’re doing around, um, what the genocide going on in Palestine and our collaboration and our solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine, um, and other efforts, including this 50th year commemoration are shedding light upon our current work and our long history here in this community. And so I think that’s very important. But one thing that I do, um, want to remain cognizant of is that sometimes how these stories can be co opted. Um, and can be, uh, manipulated and used to fit into a, a specific narrative that supports the same institutions that caused harm and, and, uh, uh, quite frankly, put these students, uh, in, uh, difficult positions. in danger and continues to do so in various ways. And so I think, uh, as we continue to shed light on these stories, it’s important to remember how we do that and to remain cognizant of that as well. So, um, I think we’re, we’re trying to do a good job to, to stay authentic to their legacy and to honor them in a, in a good way that could, that advances that work.

Sedley: How have you seen that? How have you seen the narrative of the story maybe molded differently? Incorrectly?

Encinias: Um, well, for example, you know, when people have their tours of the university campus, sometimes there’s, there’s a mention of them or, um, I think that there’s more authentic ways of, you know, Representing them, you know, there’s a lot of work around scholarships that’s going on around and also, uh, the beautiful artwork done by Jasmine and by others, um, as well as, um, the ongoing work that happens across the state that’s, that’s influenced by the legacy of Los Seis de Boulder. Um, and so I think the more, the closer to the ground, um, the more grassroots, the more authentic, uh, the commemoration, the celebration, that honoring of that memory is, you know. Um. That’s, that’s, stays true to the principles. And so I think, uh, but when, when it’s institutions, when it’s authorities, when it’s, you know, those same systems and structures that, that were, um, threatening Los Seis de Boulder and UMAS back then and now, um, I think we really have to remain, um, aware and, and critical. We have to have a critical awareness of that. That’s what they would tell us, I believe.

Sedley: How, speaking of legacy, have you seen Los Seis de Boulder impact current Chicanx and Latinx movements for justice on CU’s campus and in Boulder overall?

Encinias: Well, I think, um, as Jasmine eloquently put, like, UMA’s relationships with other student organizations like OYATE and the Black Student Alliance and, um, also UMAS y MECHA’s, um, work around, uh, educational activism like walkouts, um, civil disobedience, but also, um, even back in the day, um, these same coalitions of students and youth organizers were working against what was going on in Vietnam, against the unjust war in Vietnam, and so I think the same issues kind of persist today with, um, resources with, um, representation with how we’re telling our stories and representing our communities, admissions, and, you know, also international solidarity efforts. So I think that we’re trying to keep that memory as live as we can, but also change with the times, you know.

Sedley: And we have just about 45 seconds left. So I wanted to ask about events happening today or this week to commemorate Los Seis de Boulder.

Encinias: Well, today there’s going to be a celebration mostly at TB1, and we’re going to be gathering and eventually end up marching to the second sculpture, um, the most recent one that’s going on today, so we encourage community members to show up at TB1 around 11 a.m. and, uh, help us in this commemoration.

Sedley: All right. Jasmine Baetz is CU Boulder alumni and artist that created a memorial that is in downtown Boulder right now for Los Seis de Boulder, and Devin Enciniasis an undergrad student at CU Boulder and a big part of UMAS y MECHA. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.

Baetz: Thank you.

Encinias: Thank you.

Picture of Jackie Sedley

Jackie Sedley

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