The descendants of thousands of Denver Latino families who were forcibly displaced from their homes half a century ago to move to the Araria University campus will now receive full scholarships to study at the same university that caused the complete destruction of the Hispanic neighborhood.
The new initiative, known as the Scholarship Program for Displaced Araria Residents (DASP), began operating decades ago, although half a century after the confiscation and destruction of 36 blocks in the Latin Quarter, scholarship benefits extended to families living there from 1955 to 1973. Was done.
Thus, “all direct descendants” of the affected families are “permanently eligible for undergraduate and postgraduate studies” at the three universities currently occupied by the Araria Center for Higher Studies (AHEC), where the former resided. Hispanic.
The three colleges are the University of Colorado Denver, Denver Metropolitan State University and Denver Community College.
Although scholarships began to be offered in the mid-1990s, so far they have only partially covered university studies, visited only a few displaced families and included only the children of confiscated property owners.
When Araria was founded in 1848 (when the Mexican-American War ended), Araria was an independent town south of the Platte River, bordering Denver north of the river.
In fact, the founders of Araria chose that name (related to “gold” in Latin) because miners would come there looking for gold and then looking for gold and silver in the Rocky Mountains. At that time, the southern edge of Araria was near the so-called Pozzo de los Mexicanos, a gold mine (now extinct) that the Mexicans had run for centuries.
Beginning in 1920, as a result of the Mexican Revolution, Araria, which was already a Denver neighborhood at the time, became a Hispanic neighborhood. Then, in 1965, a flood caused by the Plat River caused severe damage to the neighborhood, eventually leading local authorities to decide to demolish it completely.
But residents were not informed of the decision until 1969, when wooden or brick houses that could no longer be repaired were ordered to be demolished. In 1972, the order was extended to cover 330 nearby homes and 250 businesses.
The demolition ended in 1976 (the year AHEC was inaugurated) and left only a few houses and the San Caitano Church, which was closed as a temple to become a community center, is now virtually unused.
“The life of the Spanish-speaking community in Araria revolved around that church. It was a place for weekly meetings, a place for friends and a place to watch kids grow up, “said historian Magdalena Gallegos in a document published by the Denver Public Library.
According to official figures, the University of Colorado at Denver has awarded scholarships to about 150 students from displaced families over the past 25 years. For its part, Denver Community College has awarded scholarships to 120 more students and Denver Metropolitan State University to about 270 students. Less than half of these scholarship recipients have completed their studies.
Colin Walker, general manager of AHEC, said in a statement that the expansion of the scholarship program “honors the sacrifices of Auraria residents and recognizes their contribution to the development of public higher education in Denver.”