Civil Rights Legacy & Community Revitalization | Priscilla Cooper & Georgette Norman

African American Heritage Sites
September 30, 2019

The Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium began when the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) successfully nominated these significant civil rights sites to the World Monuments Fund 2018 Watch List. The Consortium includes places of worship, lodging and community engagement. Located in the iconic civil rights cities of Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma as well as the rural Black Belt, these sites trace their significance from the era of disenfranchisement and Jim Crow resistance of the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the Bus Boycott of 1955, Birmingham Campaign of 1963 and Voting Rights March of 1965. (Visit

In less than two years, the Consortium has evolved into a dynamic, collaborative organization working to build institutional capacity and sustainability. Based on the shared vision and needs of committed volunteers, the Consortium has begun the work to meet those needs with workshops and trainings, connections to resources, communication, and documentation.

As this work continues, the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium recognizes the potential of these historic places to serve as a catalyst for community development and revitalization. In the aftermath of the 1960s and the civil rights movement, these sites, along with their communities, have suffered from the negative consequences of displacement, urban renewal, interstate highways, and neighborhood disinvestment. While the travel industry has spurred a dramatic increase in civil rights tourism in the past two decades, there has been no similar targeted effort to preserve these historic places. The Consortium is dedicated to engaging a new generation to reclaim the legacy of these sites as a tool for community revival, renewal and revitalization.

PRISCILLA HANCOCK COOPER became Project Director for the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium after retiring as Vice-President of Institutional Programs at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) in 2017. Ms. Cooper was instrumental in engaging the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) to secure national recognition for the A.G. Gaston Motel, laying the foundation for designation of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument as a unit of the National Park Service. She has served as a university faculty member and administrator, education and diversity consultant, artist-in-residence and performer.

GEORGETTE NORMAN is Project Historian for the Alabama African American Civil Rights Heritage Sites Consortium. She documented the sites for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s successful nomination of the Consortium to the World Monuments Fund Watch in 2018. Ms. Norman serves as an history advisor to the City of Montgomery. She retired as the first Director of Troy University Rosa Parks Museum where she partnered with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES) to develop “361 Days: The Montgomery Bus Boycott Story” for the 50th Anniversary of the Boycott. She also works as an independent consultant in the arts and conducts workshops in creativity, cultural diversity and healing history.

Free and open to the public.

Organized as part of the Preservation Lecture Series, an initiative of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia GSAPP.



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