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CU Boulder scholarship honors activists killed by car bombs 50 years ago


BOULDER, Colo. — Six students at the University of Colorado Boulder are receiving the first round of a new scholarship honoring the lives of activists who died 50 years ago.

In the late spring of 1974, a car exploded in Boulder. Then, less than 48 hours later — another explosion. Six young people were killed and a seventh was severely injured. They came to be known as “Los Seis de Boulder,” or the The Boulder Six.

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Jasaline Amaya, a CU Boulder student receiving the new scholarship, said learning that history gave her second thoughts about attending the university.

“I was a little scared as a Latina. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I really hope Boulder has changed its ways,’” she said.

Jasaline Amaya

Drew Smith, Denver7

Jasaline Amaya is studying to become an immigration lawyer, with support from the Los Seis Scholarship.

Merelyn Chavez, who is also receiving the scholarship, felt similarly. She grew up in Greeley around a predominantly Latino community.

“It was a big fear to come onto this campus, because there was no one that looked like me,” Chavez said. “It was definitely a culture shock.”

But Amaya and Chavez said a memorial to Los Seis on the CU Boulder campus reminds them that Latinos have been fighting for decades to make the university a more welcoming place.

The mosaic of those who died “brings us Latino students closer together because it reminds us that we are important, and we do belong on this campus,” Chavez said.

Los Seis memorial

Jacob Curtis, Denver7

CU Boulder art student Jasmine Baetz led the effort to make this memorial, and other students protested to keep it permanently installed.

The memorial sits outside of a campus building where student activists from the United Mexican American Students group were protesting at the time of the explosions, calling for Latinos to have better access to higher education.

“They were trying to do something for their culture,” Chavez said. “It was very powerful for them to use their voice.”

UMAS students occupy Temporary Building One on CU Boulder campus in 1974

History Colorado – Juan Espinosa Collection

Now, Amaya and Chavez are proud to be among the first to receive the Los Seis Memorial Scholarship.

Each recipient will be paired up with one of Los Seis: aspiring teacher Neva Romero, CU Boulder graduate Una Jaakola, lawyer Reyes Martinez, poet Heriberto Teran, aspiring doctor Francisco Dougherty and activist Florencio “Freddy” Granado.

Los Seis de Boulder

Jacob Curtis, Denver7

The scholarship was first thought up by Michelle Steinwand, the sister of Una Jaakola, and former Boulder City Council member Mary Young. They approached the CU Boulder BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, which started setting up an endowment.

“One of the big pieces of the Los Seis scholarship is keeping in mind what the six students were fighting for,” said Tania Hogan who directs the BUENO Center.

“They wanted representation, they wanted to feel like they belonged. And we were looking for students doing the same kind of advocacy work, who have that social justice mission,” she said.

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Amaya hopes to become an immigration lawyer, so she will receive a scholarship in honor of Reyes Martinez.

“I want to help immigrants, and I don’t want them to feel that fear I did when I was little,” she said. “All the immigrants out there that want to continue their education, research, research, research. It’s out there, there are opportunities everywhere.”

Chavez, who is studying forensic toxicology, will receive her scholarship in honor of Francisco Dougherty, who was pre-med.

“I’m hoping that with this, I can change other people’s lives,” Chavez said.

She grew up in a low-income community where substance abuse is common and wants to advocate for healthier outcomes for Latinos.

“Each student will get $1,000,” Hogan said. “But our big goal is to raise $750,000. So, it could be a $5,000 scholarship for those six students each year.”

CU Boulder Los Seis Scholarship

CU Boulder BUENO Center for Multicultural Education

CU Boulder’s BUENO Center for Multicultural Education is launching the Los Seis Scholarship with $6,000 in scholarships. Moving forward, the center hopes to raise tens of thousands of dollars to set up a permanent fund.

The scholarship winners will also receive mentorship through the BUENO Center and will be encouraged to participate in campus groups and events to help them feel connected with culture and community where they feel represented.

Los Seis and other student activists on the CU Boulder campus in the 1960s and 1970s were fighting for financial aid and parity. They wanted the number of Mexican Americans living in Colorado to be reflected in the number of students at the university. But disparities still exist today.

UMAS students protest for financial aid on CU Boulder campus

History Colorado – Juan Espinosa Collection

Roughly 35% of students in Colorado public schools identified as Hispanic in the 2022-2023 school year. But only 12.6% of students enrolled at CU Boulder in 2023 identified as Latino or Hispanic.

For students like Amaya and Chavez, scholarships like this are key to them pursuing degrees their family members haven’t previously had the opportunity to obtain.

“All my bills and tuition is paid through scholarships,” Chavez said. “Having this scholarship not only supports me being here but being able to pursue a career.”

Without financial aid, Chavez said she might not even be on campus. She was raised by her single mother, who is a DREAMER. Chavez said her mom is her savior and went through hardships to make these opportunities possible.

Merelyn Chavez

Drew Smith, Denver7

Merelyn Chavez chose CU Boulder because of her major: forensic toxicology. The Los Seis Scholarship will support her through funding and mentorship.

Chavez hopes new scholarship opportunities like this will encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to attend CU Boulder.

“There’s always a way to do it. It might not be the easiest way. But there’s a way for sure,” she said.

For Amaya, who also grew up with immigrant parents, getting this financial support is even more special because of the scholarship’s backstory.

“It means so much to me honestly,” she said. “Knowing that these students’ lives were taken so early on in their careers… the fact that we’re able to continue their legacy… It makes me proud to be a Latina on this campus.”


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