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Civil Rights History in Fort Collins#

This page is dedicated to the study of the people, organizations, and most importantly, places, that Fort Collins residents have advocated for their civil rights since the creation of Fort Collins in the 1860s. In 2022, the Colorado State Historical Fund awarded the City of Fort Collins a grant of $86,600 to study the history of various civil rights movements in the city since its foundation, document the people and organizations that fought for equality and justice in the community, and to identify places where that fight took place that may be worthy of preserving for future generations. 

The documents below examine civil rights themes previously identified by a framework developed by the National Park Service within the local context of Fort Collins.

Protest at Moby Arena - 1970

Image: Protest against a basketball game with Brigham Young University at Colorado State University's Moby Arena, February 5, 1970.

Read the Full Fort Collins Civil Rights Historic Context

Community Outreach for Civil Rights Historic Context Project

Image: Community outreach kick-off event for Fort Collins Civil Rights Historic Context project (2022)

Introduction to the History of the Civil Rights Movement in Fort Collins

Ad for Slade Acres, 1948

Image: Advertisement for Slade Acres, marketed as being "Restricted" (Fort Collins Coloradoan, May 11, 1948)

Racial Discrimination in Housing in Fort Collins

Fullana Learning Center

Image: The Fullana Elementary School (built 1975 and named for Hispanic community leader Father Juan Fullana), now the Fullana Learning Center

Racial Desegregation in Public Education in Fort Collins

Chapel at Old Main

Image: College Chapel at Old Main at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colorado State University). Several suffrage speeches were given here, including lectures by Dr. Theodosia Ammons.

Voting Rights in Fort Collins

State Theater 1939

Image: The State Theater at 151 N. College Ave. African American resident Mattie Lyle sued owner L.C. Snyder for discrimination in fully accessing the theater 1939 and won.

Racial Desegregation of Public Accommodations in Fort Collins

Sugar Beet Workers c. 1928

Image: Prefecto Montoya, Mrs. Montoya, Lasara Suniga, Gregory Suniga, Juan Esparzo, Boni Facio, Alejandro Suniga and Lee Suniga working in the beet fields on the Peasley Farm c. 1928.

Equal Employment in Fort Collins

1901 Article About Fire at Chinese Laundry

Image: 1901 newspaper article describing an act of arson that destroyed the laundry building of local Chinese businessman Hong Sing.

Criminal Injustice in Fort Collins

AIM Members Remove Bones from CSU Anthropology Lab, 1971

Image: American Indian Movement (AIM) Members removing bones from the CSU Anthropology lab in 1970 (Fort Collins Coloradoan)

Native American Rights and the American Indian Movement in Fort Collins

Why Now?#

In the last several years, there have been many cases of well-publicized civil rights violations across the country, new challenges to rights that were gained decades ago, and increases in hate crimes across multiple communities over the last two decades. This project about Fort Collins residents have sought greater civil rights and recognition of human rights over the last two centuries is an important background context for contemporary events. It is the City's hope that this project will:

  1. Document the full histories of our community and share them with as broad an audience as possible;
  2. Allow residents of Fort Collins to educate and share with each other about the diversity of their positive and negative experiences since the community's foundation;
  3. Honor and remember the sacrifices of those who fought for civil rights throughout our community's history, including the Arapahoe, Cheyenne, and other native people who were forcibly removed from their homeland;
  4. Preserve the places where people made these stories and fought these battles, through recognition and protection under the City's historic preservation ordinance.
  5. Inform related city policies

About the Project#

Civil Rights History Community Meeting#

A community meeting was held July 27, 2022 to kick off this project. People learned about what a historic context is, the intended goals for this project, and asked City staff and McDoux Preservation consultants questions.

You can watch a video of the meeting here and read a summary of the Q&A portion of the meeting here, o en español here.