TXDAR Historic Preservation Medal winners Margot Williams and Charles Cook of Houston, Harris County have dedicated long years of service to the preservation of one of Houston's most important historic African American cemeteries, Olivewood Cemetery. They have created an important venue for the celebration and understanding of the history of Houston's African American community. Olivewood Cemetery is the first African American Cemetery in Harris County. Incorporated in 1875, Olivewood Cemetery experienced decades of neglect; it had become overgrown with vegetation and only large markers and statues were visible. The Descendants of Olivewood, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization was created and has worked tirelessly to organize and implement a plan to clear the vegetation and begin the restoration process.
Ms. Williams and Mr. Cook are two of the co-founders of the Descendants of Olivewood. Together, they have lobbied for funding to preserve the cemetery landscape, have cleaned and cleared vegetation from the cemetery, and have made themselves available for special interest groups to participate in maintaining and recording of this historic resource. Houston Mayor Annise Parker presented Ms. Williams and Mr. Cook the 2012 Mayor's Citizen Award for Historic Preservation for their commitment to Olivewood. In 2005, the Texas Historical Commission granted the Historic Cemetery designation and a Texas Historical marker was dedicated in 2006. In 2008, in a landmark court case, Harris County Judge Mark Davidson awarded the Descendants of Olivewood guardianship of Olivewood Cemetery.
Ms. Williams and Mr. Cook were sponsored by the Tejas Chapter, Ashley Naumann, Regent. Tejas member Leann Plagens volunteers at Oakwood.