Event to Kick-Off Campaign For Clara Luper Sit-In Plaza

David E. Rainbolt
Clara Luper

An event to kick-off a fundraising campaign to build a Clara Luper Sit-In Plaza will begin at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, at the St. John Missionary Baptist Church, 5700 N. Kelley Ave.

The Luper Plaza will be constructed at Main Street and N. Robinson Avenue, and will feature a monument to commemorate the longest non-violent protest in the United States.

The protest was to desegregate Oklahoma City’s eating establishments, hotels, department stores and other public facilities.

“This is an opportunity for all of us to make donations (large and small) to help make this project a success,” David E. Rainbolt, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the BancFirst Corp.

The fundraising event is sponsored by The Communities Foundation of Oklahoma, of which Mr. Rainbolt is fundraising chairman.

The Communities Foundation of Oklahoma is a 501C3 non-profit organization and serves as a physical sponsor of the Clara Luper Sit-In Plaza.

Charitable donations are tax-deductible.

An un-paid board of directors has been formed to supervise the project.

The board includes representatives of the Luper family, a representative of the original 13 youngsters who were led by Clara Luper in the sit-in, as well as community leaders.

Members of the board are:

  • Lee E. Cooper Jr., pastor of the Prospect Baptist Church (co-chairman);
  • John H. Kennedy Jr., of the Irish Realty Corp. (co-chairman);
  • Leonard D. Benton, chairman of Freedom Center of OKC, LLC;
  • Collin Fleck, Bockus Payne Architecture;
  • Misty Doney Frank, The Hart Home Selling Team;
  • Joyce Johnson Henderson, retired executive with the Oklahoma City Public School District;
  • Marilyn Luper Hildreth, daughter of Clara Luper and retired executive with the Allstate Insurance Co.; and
  • Joyce Jackson, retired from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

 

The Clara Luper Sit-In Plaza will commutate the historic civil rights effort led by Luper, a social sciences high school teacher, who recruited 13 of her students to stage the non-violent protest to end segregation of public facilities.

“They were just kids with one very cherished teacher willing to lead,” a statement issued by the Communities Foundation said.

“For too long, the story of Oklahoma City’s sit-in movement, the longest non-violent civil rights protest in the country, was a forgotten history.   But the bravery of teacher Clara Luper and 13 students, some as young as 7-years-old, changed Oklahoma City forever and ended discrimination for Africa-American residents at restaurants, hotels, parks and other public venues.”

“On the 100th birthday of Clara Luper, we have an opportunity to make sure this triumph is never forgotten,” David E. Rainbolt commented.

“Together, we can be the dream.  With oversight by some of the surviving sit-in protesters, work is underway on a life-size monument portraying Luper and the original 13 students as they stood up to refusal of service at the Katz Drug Store at Main Street and Robinson Avenue.  And it is at that location that the monument will be displayed.”

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