January 20, 2014

It Was As If You Were Expecting Victory

© Photographer: Rtimages | Agency: Dreamstime.com

It worked for Luper ~ Maybe some 'sit-ins' are in order at the Vital Stats office regarding the "sealed records" system in adoption?

In honor of Martin Luther King Day I'd like to repost this article about civil rights hero, Clara Luper ~ what an inspiration!

I so wish my beautiful Mom and first Mother were here to help celebrate their grandson's birthday this weekend.  What an honor for him to share a birthday near Dr. King's. 

It was as if you were expecting victory: Luper took front seat in segregation fight
World Staff Writer 7/15/2007

The battle for civil rights in Oklahoma had perhaps its most defining moment in 1958 at a drugstore counter in Oklahoma City. A history teacher named Clara Luper captured the attention of local and national media by organizing what is thought to be one of the first publicized sit-ins. "It was as if you were expecting victory, just waiting on time," Luper, 84, said in a recent interview at her Oklahoma City home. "I just think that it happened yesterday; it's that fresh in my mind."

Sit-inners, as they were called by those in the movement, would gather at Katz Drugstore in Oklahoma City, find an open seat and order a soda. The drinks never came. Sometimes five hours would tick by at Katz and other segregated establishments in Oklahoma City and around the state. Luper, then a history teacher at John Marshall High School, led the student sit-ins with her three children in tow.

"I must have been 11 or 12," said her son Calvin Luper, 60. "It definitely had an effect on my entire life. It made me walk the line straighter than a lot of teenagers." Calvin Luper recalled a cross-country trip to New York City to perform a play for the youth council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. For the first time in their lives, the young people sat at cafe counters in cities and towns along a northern route. "That was a feeling that to this day I cannot adequately describe," Calvin Luper said.

The group was hit with the reality of segregation when they returned home through the South. "I wanted the kids to see segregation in other places than Oklahoma," Clara Luper said. Often referred to as the mother of the civil rights movement in Oklahoma, Luper was arrested 26 times during the six years she led sit-ins in Oklahoma City and around the state. Luper said her father inspired her to believe things could change. Calvin Luper becomes emotional when he talks about his grandfather. "My grandfather never had the opportunity to take us to a restaurant. You know how your grandparents bring you to Furr's . . . he never had the opportunity because of that 'lady' segregation," he said.

But Clara Luper said she always knew a change was going to come. "The majority of blacks never accepted segregation as a way of life. They believed it was a temporary situation," Luper said. In 1964, one sit-inner finally got his drink order. "I didn't worry because I believed in a God that I'd never seen. I just believed," she said.

1 comment:

jennifer anderson said...

its hard to believe that segergation was as recent as 1964