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Holding Hands


1960 The PROGRESS Village Story  2010

As narrated by Joreatha McCall at the Founders Day/Rededication Program.

 The Theme: COMMUNITY UNITY. September 25, 1977

 (Edited by Linda Washington)


     The time --- 1957 --- a dream began to take form --- the dream of a new community for Tampa’s Black Citizens.  One which offered well-constructed homes at reasonable prices in a wholesome environment --- a community which could boast of being “A Peaceful Community With Pride”.

      Those who accepted the challenge to make this dream a reality shall be referred to as the Community Founders. They were C. Blythe Andrews, Sr., Fred C. Billing, Aurelio Fernandez, James A. Griffin, Jr., Perry Harvey, Sr., R. Ambler Liggett, Ray Williams, Martin Silas, and Harold
Wolf – all deceased. Others were: Elder W. S Barfield, Joseph F. Cornelius, Cody Fowler, Romeo Gibbs, Ben D. Griffin, A. J. Grimaldi, James Hargrett, Sr., Nicholas Martin, Paul H. Smith Jr., and Robert Thomas. However, there were a number of other citizens who were actively involved in the Progress Village Dream.

     The original Board of Trustees formed a non-profit organization called Progress Village, Inc., which was chartered in 1958. In 1959, the corporation received a national award recognizing it as a group whose efforts to improve community life were most outstanding.

     But what is a community without its people?  Who would be the brave souls who dared to challenge the new frontier?  They shall henceforth be referred to as our First Families. These families were very much like the average pioneers that we see in numerous Western movies.  They were people in search of better living conditions – people in search of opportunity – people in search of change.  Brave, determined souls who are willing to sacrifice.  Willing to go without certain conveniences for a short period of time because they felt if they kept the faith and persevered, one day the new frontier would take on the likeness of the community they had dreamed of for so many years.

     The very first family in Progress Village was the Gainous family.  Once the frontier was opened, several families moved in following closely in the Gainous’ footsteps.  Although many of the first year families are now deceased, their homes still stand filled with memories left behind for the next generation. It is those memories that helped write the early chapters in the Progress Village Story.

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