BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Students rallied in front of a sculpture in honor of Los Seis de Boulder on the campus of the University of Colorado Wednesday to raise awareness about the current status of the public art display. A memorial to six activists killed in 1974, the sculpture was unveiled last year on temporary status.
Students want to see it receive permanent recognition not only for the history it represents but the symbol it has become for a new generation.
“They’re stalling, they’re stalling wanting to make a decision,” said Jaqueline Rangel, a sophomore at CU Boulder.
Rangel is a member of students organizations pushing for the university to acknowledge the sculpture beyond an extension of temporary status. They believe a university committee set to decide policies and procedures for art displays lacks the transparency and timeline they need to move forward. UMAS y MEXA is a group focused on diversity at the university made up of Chicanx and Latinx students.
Los Seis de Boulder, or “the Boulder Six,” tried to improve financial aid for students of color and preserve the Ethnic Studies department while attending CU in the 1970s, according to students involved in the event. They were part of a stand-in at Temporary Building 1 on campus, which is where the sculpture is now located. The group was killed in two car bombs and their deaths remain unsolved.
“We’re really not going to be satisfied with anything but a permanent sculpture,” said Mateo Vela, a sophomore also involved in UMAS y MEXA. “Their legacy speaks to a continuing struggle that students of color face on this campus.”
The university issued a statement about the sculpture on Friday explaining that an Art in Public Space Committee will meet in the coming months to recommend a process for pieces like the sculpture to move beyond its temporary status. Students say the university and its leaders are trying to deflect from the issue and they plan to keep demonstrating until they get a decision.
“If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d be getting the financial aid I’m getting or I wouldn’t be getting the minor I’m trying to get,” Rangel said of Los Seis. “I walk around campus and it’s kind of like, I don’t have a place here.”
To help bring awareness to their cause, a group that practices indigenous traditional dances from Central Mexico were invited by students to offer a ceremony for Los Seis as well as equity on campus.
Rangel says students of color often feel like they lack representation on campus. It’s a challenge she knowingly accepted when she enrolled at CU last fall but one she hopes to improve in her time on campus.
“I go to my classes and I’m the only brown student, the only student of color, and it feels terrible,” she said. “I wanted to come here because I wanted to be part of the revolution, I wanted to be part of the fight.”