Civil Rights Pioneer Clara Luper Dies

The organizer of a historic drugstore sit-in, she was 88 years old.

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Clara Luper (the Oklahoman)

Oklahoma civil rights activist and educator Clara Luper, best known for organizing a 1958 sit-in that resulted in the integration of 38 Katz drugstores in the Midwest, died Wednesday night at her home in Oklahoma City. She was 88.

Luper was celebrated as a pioneer of civil rights in Oklahoma. "While her accomplishments are too many to list, her legacy is easily defined," Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said in the statement today. "She made Oklahoma and the United States of America a better place to live in and was a shining example of the distinctly American idea that while we might hail from many cultures, we are one people."

A schoolteacher, Luper continued to work with the local chapter of the NAACP throughout the 1960s to stage sit-ins and nonviolent protests that ultimately led to the desegregation of restaurants in Oklahoma City.

In an interview with CNN, Luper's son, Calvin, said that although she's known for organizing the single sit-in, his mother was dedicated to making the life of citizens in Oklahoma better. "Now we have to step up to the plate and accept the responsibility and do what Mom wanted us to do, and that would be to carry on her legacy of honesty and do anything else that would make our city and state a great place," he said.

Luper is survived by her two daughters, a son and grandchildren.

Read more at CNN.

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