Downtown post office to be renamed after Oklahoma civil rights leader

Clara Luper

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A Congresswoman from Oklahoma will host a ceremony to rename the City Center post office after one of the state’s civil rights leaders.

The post office will become the Clara Luper Post Office Building.

On Aug. 19, 1958, Clara Luper, an Oklahoma history teacher and an advisor for the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council, initiated one of the first civil rights protests in the country.

Luper and 13 of her students went to Katz Drug Store in downtown Oklahoma City to stage a sit-in, which occurred two years before the famous sit-ins in North Carolina.

Luper was arrested 26 times and was considered a major leader in the fight to end segregation in Oklahoma.

“Clara Luper was a leader in the fight to end segregation in Oklahoma,” said Rep. Stephanie Bice. “As the organizer of one the first peaceful sit-ins, she is remembered as the mother of the Oklahoma civil rights movement. In 1958, because of her work, Oklahoma became a very different world. Renaming the post office after Ms. Luper honors her historic fight for justice and ensures her legacy will live on.”

The dedication ceremony will take place on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 9 a.m.

Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, former Congresswoman Kendra Horn, and Marilyn Hildreth, the daughter of Luper, will be in attendance.

Former Congresswoman Kendra Horn wrote the measure to designate the post office building as the Clara Luper Post Office Building. It was signed into law on Jan. 5.

“Clara Luper and the sit-inners are true civil rights heroes who never stopped fighting for justice and opportunity for all Oklahomans,” Horn said. “This bill honors their legacy, giving Clara Luper’s name a permanent place in downtown Oklahoma City just blocks from where she led the first sit-in and from the epicenter of the sanitation workers’ strike. Today, the story of Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council are inspiring a new generation of Oklahomans to take action. I hope the Clara Luper Post Office can stand as a testament to her enduring legacy, her courage, and her historic fight for justice.”

Clara Luper
Clara Luper

Luper was born Clara Mae Shepard on May 3, 1923, in Okfuskee County, Okla. In addition to her pioneering civil rights leadership, she was a teacher and lifelong community activist. She died at age 88 on June 8, 2011, in Oklahoma City.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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