It’s been 46 years since since two car bombs killed six young Chicano activists in Boulder over the course of two days, and until Wednesday, there was no sign marking the location of the first explosion in Chautauqua Park on May 27, 1974, which killed Una Jaakola, Reyes Martinez and Neva Romero.
But a year-long effort by the Colorado Chautauqua Association, Boulder city leaders, University of Colorado Boulder students and surviving family members culminated in a new memorial being installed Wednesday to remember Los Seis de Boulder.
The memorial honors Jaakola, Martinez and Romero, as well as Florencio Granado, Heriberto Teran and Francisco Dougherty, who were killed by a car bomb near 28th Street and Canyon Boulevard two days after the first explosion.
The six were current, former and prospective CU Boulder students and were involved in the Chicano civil rights movement, particularly at the university.
At the time of the bombings, CU Boulder students were occupying Temporary Building 1 on campus to protest the treatment of Mexican-American students, including cuts to a diversity recruitment program and missing financial aid payments.
Family members of Jaakola, Martinez and Romero gathered on the east side of the Chautauqua Auditorium on Wednesday to see the engraved stone monument — lichen-covered sandstone sourced in Lyons — lifted into place by a crane and to remember their loved ones. A larger celebration was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and will be rescheduled for next year.
Michelle Steinwand, Jaakola’s sister, held back tears as she read a note addressed to Los Seis.
“You lived your lives fully, passionately and compassionately in service of others,” Steinwand said. “You probably won’t be surprised to know the world needs you now. We are still fighting for equal rights, equal access to education, to health care and legal counsel, for equitable wages, housing, respect and dignity.”
“You truly were teachers, warriors, healers and leaders. We miss you, we love you and we remember you,” she continued.
Antonio and Pacquito Martinez, nephews of Reyes Martinez, were born after the bombings occurred — but tragedy still cast a shadow over their lives and their family.
“These were just young people struggling to survive,” Pacquito Martinez said. “They were just trying to be able to go to school and make better opportunities so they could provide for their families. Their lives were cut tragically short.”
It’s difficult to see how that struggle continues today, Antonio Martinez said.
“You look around and see what’s happening in our society, and see that each of us alive right now are the threads connecting the past and the future,” he said. “I hope what they lived for and what they represented is not in vain, because I don’t want us to continuously be making the same mistakes decades later.”
After the memorial stone was placed, family members placed red roses on the memorial during a small ceremony. Neva Romero’s brother, Nick Romero, stood in silence and gazed at the stone.
“I can’t believe she’s gone. It’s hard to believe she’s gone,” he said.
His wife, Susan, stood by his side. “After all these years, finally, there’s some recognition,” she said.
The memorial was funded by a $5,000 grant from the city of Boulder and was approved by the Colorado Chautauqua Association’s Buildings and Grounds Committee and the City of Boulder Landmarks Review Committee.
Boulder city council member Mary Young said she is glad that the memorial will continue to raise awareness of Los Seis.
“The whole thing that people don’t even know about this is really astounding,” she said. “I didn’t know about it until 10 years ago — but there are more and more things happening and more and more people are learning about this.”
The increase of awareness includes a mosaic of Los Seis created by CU Boulder graduate student Jasmine Baetz and currently displayed in front of Temporary Building 1.