The project ensured not only cultural formation but also ideological. The idea arose at the 1st Student Congress held in October 1923, a year that was characterized by university reaction to the tyranny's excesses.
On that occasion it was announced that on November 3 work would begin at the José Martí Popular University. Inaugurated in the Aula Magna de La Habana, with an enrollment of 400 students, it united workers and intellectuals with the unions, as proof of the transformation that the new educational organization had to assume, to bring knowledge to the humblest people.
The course began on November 20, 1923. The Faculty of Law taught History of Humanity and Cuba, Literature, Grammar, Mathematics, Psychology and Logic, Homiculture, Maternity and Sexual Prophylaxis, Political and Social Economy, Labor Legislation , Anti Dogmatic Moral and Rudiments of Religious Sciences. The dialectical-materialist method was applied, and the scientist-pedagogical recognized the objective of forming a completely new and revolutionary mentality in the proletariat.
The first revolutionary leaders of the Cuban proletariat were formed in the University's classrooms, and it was the beginning of the cultural and political preparation of the workers in the following years. The National Confederation of Workers of Cuba, the Confederation of Workers of Cuba, and the first Communist Party of Cuba contributed to the creation of the anti-imperialist conscience of the workers and the Cuban people
Ordered by the dictator Gerardo Machado and as part of the repression unleashed against the Cuban progressive movement fighting against the colony imposed by US imperialism, on July 12, 1927, the José Martí Popular University and América Libre magazine were closed.
Mella wrote: “The classrooms have closed but the pages of the books have opened. [...] "The José Martí Popular University lives. Many Cubans have fallen. Many will fall. But, not a single idea or a single principle has yet been killed.