Clara Luper decided to take on segregation while on a bus ride across the Jim Crow south in 1957. When the young Oklahoma City history teacher returned home, she organized a group of students to sit down at the all-white Katz Drug Store and order a soda. With that, the American "sit-in" movement was born.
Mrs. Luper's courageous acts of civil disobedience led to the integration of businesses and public accommodations in Oklahoma and launched a lifetime of non-violent activism that helped bring racial equality to the United States.
Clara Luper discusses the sit-ins, civil rights and her life's work as a leading social reformer with OETA's Dick Pryor in A Conversation With...Clara Luper, debuting Sunday, January 18, 2009 at 6:00 p.m.
A contemporary and friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Clara Luper marched with him in places like Selma, Alabama and at the epic March on Washington in 1963. She led the Oklahoma sit-in movement for six years, until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Later, she led efforts to integrate the Oklahoma City Public Schools and Doe Amusement Park in Lawton and organized and led the Oklahoma City Sanitation Strike and the Tulsa Freedom March to integrate public accommodations.
Mrs. Luper was arrested 26 times while spreading her message of brotherhood and breaking down the walls of segregation, discrimination and hatred. She has come to be known by many as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement.