Sunday, June 12, 2011

Clara Luper, a Leader of Civil Rights Sit-Ins, Dies at 88 -

Clara Luper, a Leader of Civil Rights Sit-Ins, Dies at 88 - Her name does not resonate like that of Rosa Parks, and she did not garner the kind of national attention that a group of black students did when they took seats at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., in February 1960. But Clara Luper was a seminal figure in the sit-ins of the civil rights movement.

Ms. Luper, who led one of the first sit-ins — at a drugstore in Oklahoma City 18 months before the Greensboro action — died Wednesday at her home in Oklahoma City, her daughter Marilyn Hildreth said. She was 88.

Ms. Luper was a history teacher at Dunjee High School in 1957 when she agreed to become adviser to the Oklahoma City N.A.A.C.P.’s youth council. The youngsters asked what they could do to help the movement.

On Aug. 19, 1958, Ms. Luper led three other adult chaperons and 14 members of the youth council into the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City, where they took seats at the counter and asked for Coca-Colas. Denied service, they refused to leave until closing time. They returned on Saturday mornings for several weeks.