1958 Oklahoma City Sit-ins
In 1958, Clara Luper and her students from the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council were invited to New York City to perform the play she wrote, Brother President, about Martin Luther King Jr.
It was that trip that became the catalyst for the beginning of the sit-in movement in Oklahoma City and the country.
One of Clara’s students was her daughter Marilyn Luper Hildreth. It was seven-year-old Marilyn who in a meeting suggested the group go down to the Katz Drug store to order a Coke and some burgers. The date was August 19, 1958, and it became the nation’s first nonviolent lunch counter sit-in. On the third day, Katz staff served the group burgers and Cokes. The Katz chain soon ended its segregation policy in all thirty-eight of its stores in four states.
Adults were not used for the sit-in for fear of violence. But it was the thirteen children of the youth council ranging in age from seven to fifteen who endured insults, threats, and even spit from angry white customers.
Clara Luper was eighty-eight when she died in 2011. Her daughter, Marilyn, is our storyteller who says the legacy of her mother inspires her every day.
Interview with Marilyn Luper
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: April 7, 2016
Date Published: April 17, 2019
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.
Tags: New York City, Katz Drug Store, John A. Brown, Skirvin Hotel, President Barack Obama, Senator Kerr, Charlton Heston, Cowboy Hall of Fame, March on Washington, Allstate Insurance, Clara Luper, Civil Rights, Racism, Segregation