The Progress Center for Black Women (PCFBW) has recently relocated from Fitchburg to downtown Madison. The mission of the PCFBW is to build and design an innovative center that serves as a hub of community, connections, valued experiences, and opportunities for Black women to transform their lives and families.
“It really was about creating a space, at that time, in November 2018,” founder Sabrina Madison said in an interview. “We, the Progress Center, were the first space created by Black women for Black women in Dane County. Period. So it was just like, ‘we need space’. And I’m gonna create a space for us that we have ownership of. It’s a Black woman leading, growing, and building. And you (Black women) come build it with me.”
Photos courtesy Progress Center for Black Women.
The creating force behind the PCFBW came from wanting to create space for Black women. Madison quit her job in March 2016 and held the first Black Womens’ Leadership Conference two months later. The Leadership Conference has been held every year since, except the past two years due to the COVID pandemic. The recent move to downtown Madison fit into a plan and welcomes Black people in Madison to a space where they aren’t typically welcomed.
“So we moved downtown because downtown is also in a point of transition,” said Madison. “Where downtown is figuring out, what does it mean to have a downtown, and what is downtown. What happens downtown? I don’t come down there a lot. But when I do go, even though I’m pretty well-known, you still have people who try to make it uncomfortable, even for me. I’ve always created spaces that sort of break the rules and break the status quo. So Black women, Black kids, Black families and Black men—they also need a thriving downtown.”
In creating the organization and space, Madison hired a Black design team, a Black man and woman, from Milwaukee. She also toured the Black cities and spaces in the United States for two straight months examining different types of Black leadership and community. Madison discourages fitting into whiteness and emphasized the importance of Black women and Black people not being afraid to demand space.
“Black women, Black girls, this is your space,” said Madison. “People sometimes say, ‘yeah, you’re ….’ and I’m like ‘no, us’. I create the skeleton. You fill it in. The space is about you. It is for you. When you walk in, it’s you. people who use the space and come to the space, they all know this. But for anyone who doesn’t know me or who’s never been to the space who might be reading this, the message that I really want to get across is that this space is about you.”
The Progress Center for Black Women is now located at 30 W Mifflin St Suite 702, Madison, WI 53703. To schedule a visit at the new location, click here: https://calendly.com/progresscenterforblackwomen/smallgrouptours?month=2021-08.
For more information about the Progress Center for Black Women and resources, visit: https://www.centerforblackwomen.org/