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Families still reeling with loss of Chicano activists killed by car bombs 49 years ago

"A lot of what they fought for, people are facing the exact same thing decades later”
Antonio Lopez plays guitar in his home
Posted at 9:00 PM, May 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-28 12:04:18-04

BOULDER AND LONGMONT, Colo. — Two car bombings, less than 48 hours apart almost 50 years ago, are still shaking the lives of Coloradans today.

The first bomb went off in Boulder’s Chautauqua Park, taking the lives of aspiring teacher Neva Romero, lawyer Reyes Martinez and his girlfriend Una Jaakola.

Then a second explosion killed poet Heriberto Teran, activist Florencio “Freddy” Granado and aspiring doctor Francisco Dougherty. Another man, Antonio Alcantar, survived but was seriously injured.

The six who died became known as Los Seis de Boulder, The Boulder Six.

Los Seis de Boulder Mural at History Colorado
Mural on display at History Colorado's El Movimiento exhibit

“While I grew up knowing this story, there's a lot of people who have no idea that this happened,” said Antonio Lopez, the nephew of one of the bomb victims, Reyes Martinez.

Lopez and other family members of those who died continue to mourn their loss, and to share their stories.

Lopez is a folk musician and his songs reflect the Chicano community’s place in Colorado.

“Our history in this area goes back for so long,” Lopez said. But “a lot of the Chicano history has just been erased and bulldozed over... So inevitably, it's the stuff that seeps into my art.”

Reyes and his brother Francisco “Kiko” Martinez were both lawyers.

“They figured that that could be one of the best ways to help people and just help the cause,” Lopez said.

But Reyes' time as a lawyer was brief.

Six Killed in Car Bombings

“They were young people who had a very full life ahead of them with dreams and professional aspirations, and their lives were cut short by tragedy,” Lopez said.

Los Seis ranged in age from 21 to 32 at the time of their deaths. The deadly explosions shattered their burgeoning careers and separated them from their families.

Lopez never had the chance to meet his uncle.

“He was always kind of a mythical figure to me growing up,” Lopez said.

A similar experience to that of Florencio Granado, who was named for his father, but born just a few months after he died.

Florencio "Freddy" Granado speaks to students at CU Boulder

"Since I was a little boy, people came up to me and said, ‘Oh my god, you're Florencio's son. I just love the way he spoke and talked and connected with his people,'" Florencio said.

He credits his mother, Georgiana Archuleta, his uncles and Chicano movement scholars and activists like Ricardo Romero and Priscilla Falcon, for teaching him about his father.

“I just wouldn't know about what he did, and what they stood for,” Granado said.

Florencio Granado once marched 100 miles from Pueblo to Denver to call attention to the struggles of farm workers.

striking farm workers and supporters marching from Pueblo to Denver
Striking farm workers and supporters marching from Pueblo to Denver in 1970

"They cared about the people,” Granado said. “I respect them. I honor them.”

For Granado and Lopez, the fight of their lost ancestors is one that lives on today.

“It's not a Hollywood or Walt Disney story of now they're martyrs and now there's equity,” Lopez said. "It's sad to say a lot of what they fought for, people are facing the exact same thing decades later.”

Families still reeling with loss of Chicano activists killed by car bombs 49 years ago

A special thanks to the following institutions for providing archival materials: University of Colorado Boulder Rare and Distinctive Collections, CSU Pueblo Archives and Special Collections, Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection, Denver Public Library Special Collections, Carnegie Library for Local History, History Colorado — Juan Espinosa Collection, The Freedom Archives, Boulder Daily Camera

Denver7 photojournalists Jacob Curtis and Drew Smith contributed to this report.

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