Priscilla Hancock Cooper

Founding Director of the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium (AAACRHSC)

Priscilla Hancock Cooper is founding director of the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium (AAACRHSC), a collaboration of civil rights sites in Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma and the Black Belt.  She assumed this role after retiring as Vice-President of Institutional Programs at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) in 2017.  AAACRHSC supports capacity building for these sites by preserving historic buildings, protecting authentic stories, and engaging a new generation.

During her tenure as BCRI Interim President and CEO from 2014-2015, she was instrumental in engaging the National Trust for Historic Preservation in securing National Treasures and Eleven Most Endangered recognition for the A.G. Gaston Motel, ultimately resulting in designation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument as a unit of the National Park Service.

From 1990-92, Ms. Hancock Cooper served as researcher and copywriter for the BCRI  exhibition and education consultant prior to its opening in 1992.  She returned to BCRI in 2000 to direct the Birmingham Cultural Alliance Partnership (BCAP) project, an innovative after-school program that received a 2007 Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.  Ms. Cooper also directed the Leadership Initiative for African American Museums in collaboration with the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  

She was institutional lead for “Latino New South,” a collaboration led by Levine Museum of the New South in partnership with BCRI and Atlanta History Center. Her article about the project appeared in the American Alliance of Museums magazine in 2012.  In 2018, her essay about the development of the Bimingham Civil Rights Institute was published in the Journal of Public History.

In 2008, Ms. Cooper was selected to participate in the Getty Museum Leadership Institute, the nation’s premier training for museum professionals.  She is a member of the 2011 Class of Leadership Birmingham and 2013 Class of Leadership Alabama. The Southeastern Museums Conference presented her with its 2018 Award for Museum Service.  Early in her career, Ms. Cooper was a faculty member and administrator at the University of Louisville (KY) and the University of Montevallo (AL).  She is  graduated from Lincoln University (MO) and received her master’s degree from The American University (DC).