OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — KFOR is remembering the a sit-in movement started by Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council at Katz Drug Store in downtown Oklahoma City 65 years ago.

The three-day non-violent protest helped stir the civil rights movement across the state and around the country.

The goal was to do away with discrimination over lunch.

“The group met at my house on a hot August day and on that day my daughter Marilyn said,’ I’ll tell you what, let’s go down to Katz Drug Store and take us a seat,'” civil rights activist Clara Luper can be heard saying in archive video provided by the Oklahoma History Center.

Katz had a counter where you could order up common favorites, like a Coke, a burger or some fries.

That is, unless you were Black.

“You never think about those people that don’t have those privileges,” said Clara Luper in archived video.

“Now what kind of sense does this make?,” she said.

“So I felt when I walked in Katz Drug Store that I had as much right in that store as any other person [but] I didn’t realize that people would laugh at us and tell us how Black we were, how ugly we were and what a disgrace we were to this city,” she said.

Clara Luper and the thirteen kids from the NAACP Youth Council decided to “sit” until they were served.

Dr. Karlos Hill of the Clara Luper Legacy Committee said the way the group practiced the non-violent protest changed America.

“It was a lot at stake when thirteen children led by Clara Luper walked into a lunch counter and peacably sat quietly and hoped to be served,” he said.

“The gravity of the situation was clear but also the need to force change was also clear.”

Decades later, those close to the impact will say what happened that day in August was never really about the food.

“Being with Ms. Luper I learned a lot. As our youth advisor She always treated everyone the same. No one was more important than the other [and] we carry her legacy on,” said James Woods of the Legacy Committee.

“It’s very difficult to love people that have kicked you, stabbed you in your back, talked about you criticized you and abused you without even knowing you. But mom would say, ‘we have to love them anyway’,” said Clara’s daughter Marilyn Luper Hildredth.

The Clara Luper Legacy Committee 2023’s Freedom Fiesta continues through the weekend, to celebrate the 65th anniversary with the theme “Unity in the Community”.

Saturday, August 19, 9 a.m., a reenactment of the Sit-In March will start at Frontline Church, 1104 N Robinson and end at Kaiser’s Grateful Bean Cafe, 1039 N Walker. Family members of OKC Civil Rights movement participants are encouraged to join.

Sunday, August 20, 6 p.m., the Freedom Fest Celebration Program will be hosted at Fifth Street Baptist Church, 801 NE 5th St., showcasing keynote speaker, Pastor A. Byron Coleman, Senior Pastor of Fifth Street Baptist Church.

For more information on the Clara Luper Legacy Committee, visit claraluperlegacy.com.