In 1974 Marcela Lucero Trujillo—professor of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota, writer, poet, linguist and activist—joined with a group of young volunteers from the Chicanos Vencerán group to respond to the needs of the growing Mexican-American population in Minneapolis. With Marcela’s passion for the cause and gift for words, she obtained a small starting grant and Centro Cultural Chicano was born.
Programs were initially designed for women and children with a focus on health and education and evolved to include senior citizens, employment, crisis and housing. A tight sense of cooperation within the community was embedded in all of Centro’s programming.
Following the example of these founders, several Chicano leaders guided the organization during its years of growth. In 1996 Tyrone Guzman became Executive Director. During his 13 years of service, he reinvented the organization, reinforcing education as Centro’s key strategy for addressing the root causes of poverty and expanding the definition of health to include physical well-being as well as well-being of the mind and spirit.
Guzman recognized the emerging Ecuadorian community and others from Latin America. The beauty of all of these cultures are represented in the art on walls of our center today. Under Guzman’s leadership, the organization relocated to its current site. Here an accredited bilingual preschool, Siembra, was formed as well as the Raíces youth program, which instills in young people a sense of pride in their culture.
After Tyrone’s untimely death in 2009, the agency continued under the direction of Roxana Linares, with a board of directors led by Teresa Mesa. Roxana set out to strengthen the programs of Centro, while adapting to the changing nature of the community’s needs. Upon the fifth anniversary of Tyrone’s passing, the board voted to change the name of the organization to honor his leadership and commitment to the community.
Today Centro Tyrone Guzman is creating pathways out of poverty, helping children and youth reach their full potential and improving the lives of families and individuals of all ages. The vision is of a vibrant, diverse and progressive Latino community that belongs and contributes to the social and economic vitality of Minnesota. This was and continues to be Centro Tyrone Guzman’s true north.