With MAPS 4 Board

Benton Discusses Plans for Luper Rights Center

Leonard Benton discussed plans for the building of the Clara Luper Civil Rights Center with the MAPS 4 Citizen’s Advisory Board of Directors during a meeting held Thursday.

Mr. Benton, the trustee of the five-acre project, is the retired president of the city’s Urban League.

The center will be built at the site of the Freedom Center at NE25th Street and Martin Luther King Avenue.

The Freedom Center was constructed by Clara Shepard Luper and was considered to be her headquarters.

Mrs. Luper, who died in 2011, led the Oklahoma City Sit-In Movement as leader of the local NAACP Youth Council and that movement resulted into the desegregation of lunch counters and other dining establishments.

The Luper center will emphasize the rights leader’s adoption of non-violence as a civil disobedience tactic.

The $25 million project includes the renovation of the Freedom Center, a visitors center,  Café 1619 (1619 is the year when the first African slaves were sold in America) and a museum/education/events complex.

A “Journey to Equality” pathway through the center will feature interactive exhibits.

Mr. Benton told the advisory board that the Freedom Center has begun making contacts with other African-American history centers and museums.

The MAPS 4 board held its second virtual meeting on Thursday and held an in-person meeting in July.

Former Mayor Ron  Norick, who launched the Metropolitan Area Projects in the 1990’s, reviewed the beginnings of the Capital Improvements Program during Thursday’s meeting.

The advisory board reviewed plans for the 80,000 sq, ft. Palomar Family Justice Center, another MAPS 4 project.

Other projects will be discussed at later advisory board meetings.

In December, voters approved to extend the 1-cent MAPS sales tax for eight years to accommodate the 14 MAPS 4 projects.

The $987 million MAPS 4  budget will finance projects ranging from a new Fairgrounds Coliseum to a new animal shelter and to affordable housing.

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