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Priscilla Hancock Cooper Retires After Distinguished Career at Civil Rights Institute


Special to The Times

Priscilla Hancock Cooper, Vice President of Institutional Programs at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), said she will retire after an extensive career of service to the Institute and the community.

“I have enjoyed a rewarding career at BCRI,” said Cooper, who served as interim BCRI President and CEO from 2014–15, “and am deeply grateful for the many wonderful experiences this work has afforded, especially the friendships I’ve made.” She added, “While it is difficult to leave, I do look forward to spending more time with my family”

Andrea Taylor, CEO of the BCRI, said, “We wish Priscilla all the best in retirement and are pleased that she will continue to consult with BCRI on selected projects and to serve as a member of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission.”

Birmingham Attorney Doug Jones, BCRI Board Chair expressed deep appreciation for Cooper’s extraordinary vision and leadership.

“She will always be an indelible part of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s history and origins,” he said.

Cooper’s initial work at BCRI began in 1990 as copywriter and education consultant for the permanent exhibition before the grand opening 25 years ago.

In 2000, she returned to lead the Institute’s after-school program that later received an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2006.

She has been a mentor for numerous youth and adults in museum studies and also directed the Leadership Initiative for the Association of African American Museums, a national training program for museum professionals. In addition, she was involved in the work of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service to help prepare for the National Monument designation.

A gifted poet and performer, Cooper has received two individual artist fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.   She has toured nationally as a performing artist and two of her works have been produced by Red Mountain Theatre Company, “Back to the Dream” (2007) and “Call Me Black Woman” (2008).  From 1998-2012, she served as a teaching writer for the Writing Our Stories Violence Prevention Project sponsored by the Alabama Writers Forum and the Alabama Department of Youth Services.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Cooper is the proud mother of three adult children and grandmother of six.