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Arrested 26 times

The first image is a clipping from my archives. The marvelous-looking woman pictured is Clara Luper, and a marvel she was! 

 Born in Oklahoma, she was the first Black person to enroll in the graduate history program at the University of Oklahoma. The adult sponsor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council, Clara Luper and thirteen students staged a sit-in at the Katz Drugstore in downtown Oklahoma City

on August 19, 1958, a year and a half before the more widely known sit-in at Greensboro, North Carolina. The clipping is about an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Katz Drugstore sit-in.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Clara Luper, who was a high school history teacher for 41-years, led civil rights protests and marches to desegregate hundreds of restaurants, cafes,

theaters, hotels, and churches, and for voting rights, equal banking rights, open housing, and employment opportunities. She was arrested 26 times. On a national level, she took part in the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. On “Bloody Sunday" she received a deep cut in her leg.  In 1972, she was a  candidate for United States Senator. Asked if she could represent white people, Clara Luper said, “Of course, I can represent white people, black people, red people, yellow people, brown people, and polka dot people. You see, I have lived long enough to know that people are people.”

  When Clara Luper died in 2011, she was only the second person not connected to an elected official to lie in repose in the first-floor rotunda of the state Capitol. An Oklahoma Highway Patrol honor guard stood beside her brown wooden casket. Nearby stood an honor guard from the Oklahoma Army National Guard. (The other person to lie in repose was the aviator Wiley Post.)

Clara Luper is well remembered and honored in Oklahoma City—in 2000 the governor

signed a bill making State Highway 107, also known as NE 23, that runs alongside the state Capitol the Clara Luper Corridor. “I have marched down this street on many days,” she said. “When I think of a street named after Clara Luper, I don’t think in terms of Clara Luper. I think of all the people that have been quilted into my life. If people would look at the sign ‘Clara

Luper’ and remember those that tried so hard to bring about a new day, new opportunities, then I would be engulfed with happiness." 

Images top to bottom, click to enlarge: The Record, 8/20/08; The Daily Oklahoman, June 10, 2011, p. 4; Zinn Education Project; The Daily Oklahoman, June, 10, 2011, p. 1; The Daily Oklahoman, June, 10, 2011, p. 4;


(I lived in Oklahoma City, from 1973-1978, but never met Clara Luper, to my regret!)

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