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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Tribute to Clara Luper

On this 4th of July celebration where we laud those who have given us our freedom, we need to remember that not all fights for freedom are fought on the battlefield. Many are fought by those who take courageous stands in our communities, schools and businesses. Meet one such person, one of my heroes, Mrs. Clara Luper

During 41 years as an award winning Oklahoma educator, Mrs. Clara Luper taught history and made history. Born in 1923, Mrs. Luper grew up near Hoffman, Oklahoma. She graduated from Grayson High School and matriculated to Langston University where she earned a B.A. degree. Mrs. Luper received her M. A. degree from the University of Oklahoma and taught school at Taft, Pawnee, Spencer and Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Many know Mrs. Luper as the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. She began the Oklahoma Sit-In Movement, August 19, 1958 when she led a group of students in a sit-in at an Oklahoma City lunch counter. This effort and continuing efforts resulted in restaurants in Oklahoma City and across the state opening their doors to African Americans. This was the first publicized sit-in in the nation. Mrs. Luper led the Oklahoma City Public School integration fight, participated in the historic March on Washington, D.C., Selma, Alabama and every major march in America. She was arrested 26 times in Civil Rights activities. She led with courage and persistence and taught that non-violence activism was the way to freedom.

Mrs. Luper also participated in the first teachers' strike in Oklahoma when she participated in the teachers' strike for a true contract in 1979. She is one of those who "Walked the Line in '79' that gave birth to the American Federation of Teachers union which remains the collective bargaining agent for the teachers of the Oklahoma City Public Schools. I have the honor of teaching at John Marshall High School where she taught for many years.

1 comment:

rmacapobre said...

i know very little about american history. is she the woman who sat in front of the bus? she was brave and i admire her for it. i still do not get people of the past who discriminated against each other because of the color of their skin ...