Progreso Community Center is the first Hispanic grassroots membership community-based organization in Nashville since 2006 and the first Hispanic community center in our city since 2007. Our history is based on the importance of the participation of marginalized community members creating a movement for social change in which participatory and democratic decision-making processes determined a solid foundation for community organizing. The inception of our organization was through a united consciousness for collective action that changed the traditional paternalistic way of creating organizations by a couple of people. Progreso Community Center's foundation included the participation of voiceless and powerless Hispanic immigrants, which has made us unique in the struggle for social and economic justice in our city.
We know that when vulnerable people in any community are honestly empowered, rather than just rhetorically and paternalistically, they are able to construct a movement that challenges the establishment that reproduces social inequalities and dependency. As in any movement for social change, we faced challenges many of which were inconceivable, such as being questioned for having our meetings in Spanish in a community center that was not ours. However, we have overcome this type of challenge, and now we have our own community center where we can speak not only our language, but where we can also learn how to write, read, and speak English.