The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute marks its twenty-fifth year as the focal point for the city’s civil rights district. Inspired by the vision of Mayor David Vann, it became a reality under the leadership of the Dr. Richard Arrington, the city’s first African American mayor. A team of committed community volunteers led the institute through thirteen years of development in spite of corporate skepticism and citizen resistance. BCRI evolved as a model for staff development, community engagement and leadership and is now a key partner in the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service established in 2017.
A City Embraces Its Past, Looks to the Future: A Perspective on the Evolution of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Priscilla Hancock Cooper retired as Vice-President of Institutional Programs at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) in April 2017. She served as BCRI Interim President and CEO from 2014–15. From 1990–92, Ms. Hancock Cooper served as researcher and copywriter for the permanent exhibition and education consultant. She returned to the Institute in 2000 to direct the Birmingham Cultural Alliance Partnership (BCAP) project, an innovative after-school program. She directed a national training program for museum professionals sponsored by BCRI and the Association of African American Museums with funding from the Institute of Museum Services. Currently, she consults with BCRI as project director for the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium. In 2008, Ms. Cooper was selected to participate in the Getty Museum Leadership Institute, the nation’s premier training for museum professionals. A writer and performer, she has received two independent artist fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She is a member of the 2011 Class of Leadership Birmingham and 2013 Class of Leadership Alabama.
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Priscilla Hancock Cooper; A City Embraces Its Past, Looks to the Future: A Perspective on the Evolution of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The Public Historian 1 August 2018; 40 (3): 211–231. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2018.40.3.211
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