09.21.19

Latinx roots reach back centuries in Colorado

Josie Mares’ family has lived in Longmont for five generations.

Her father, Cayetano Martinez, was run out of town — twice — by the Ku Klux Klan, which in the early 1900s had a stronghold in Boulder County.

But he came back both times, and today his family is still going strong in Longmont. They lived on the east side of town “where the Latinos were allowed,” said Mares, a third generation Longmont resident. The homes of her grandmother and uncle still stand.

Such stories are typical for Latinx residents, whose Colorado and Boulder County roots go deep. Eighty percent of Latinx Coloradans were born in the state, according to the Latino Leadership Institute, versus 55% for the population as a whole.

Though the role of Hispanic, Chicano, Mestizo and Latinx people in the area’s history has become more acknowledged in recent years, a great deal of hate continues to be directed at people of non-Anglo heritage.

“You hear a lot of, ‘Go back where you came from,’” Mares’son, J.L. Mares, said.

As the population booms, some residents express a longing for the “good old days,” J.L. Mares said. Latinx people are often left out of the narrative of what such a place would look like, he feels.

“Despite the fact that my family has been here for multiple generations, it seemingly has little significance to those who control the narrative. We have a voice and are capable of representing and communicating our own narrative.”

by Chris Barge