Clara Luper's Children Remember The Civil Rights Icon

Thursday, June 9th 2011, 6:32 pm
By: News 9

Jacqueline Sit, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma City civil rights icon who played an integral part in a sit-in movement 50 years ago has died. Clara Luper was 88.

On Thursday, her children talked about the influence Luper had on those around her and how they would like their mother to be remembered.

Clara Luper had an influence on thousands of people. Her three children say she loved everyone and everyone loved her. They say her mission was to bring people together.

"We thought it was the way it was across this nation, to be discriminated against," said Marilyn Luper-Hildreth, Luper's daughter. "But as my mama said, a little bit of freedom is a dangerous thing."

Luper-Hildreth says she remembers being in the historic KATZ Drugstore sit-in movement more than 50 years ago as an 8-year-old. It was a movement that earned her mother Clara Luper a place in history. It was a non violent civil rights demonstration that gained local and national media attention.

"We would go down there and sit down and we would sit down until they serve us and there you have it," she said. 

"I'm going to miss my good friend and my great mother," Calvin Luper, her son, said.

Family members said Luper was often referred to as the mother of the civil rights movement in Oklahoma.

Her persistence and strength inspired countless people across the south, but Luper was also an educator.

"She loved people she loved bringing out the best in people she could spot potential in her student that most times couldn't see in themselves," said her daughter, Chelle Luper-Wilson.

Luper was an American history teacher in the classroom and at home and there was a lesson even in a home cooked meal.

"If you wanted to eat it you had to spell it," Calvin Luper said.  "So we didn't have very much spaghetti."

The Clara Luper corridor in Oklahoma City dedicates her legacy over the years--a civil rights pioneer who believed in all people beyond the lines of color.

"I think god put my mother on this earth to do the things she did she affected so many young people's lives, she gave people hope when there was no hope," Marilyn Luper-Hildreth said.

Clara Luper also started the Miss Black Oklahoma pageant, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, but, most importantly, she was a friend to everyone who crossed her path.

Luper is survived by a son and two daughters.

Her funeral will be June 17th at 11 a.m. in the Cox Convention Center.