August 19, 1958

Renowned civil rights activist and teacher Clara Luper, advisor for the Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led her students into the segregated Katz drugstore. The group sat at the lunch counter and staged one of the first sit-ins in the United States. The protests lasted only a few days before the store served the protestors, and Katz Drug Store desegregated lunch counters in three states. After the success of the Katz Drugstore sit-in, numerous sit-ins occurred in Oklahoma City, and around the United States, for years to come until segregation was outlawed.

Students stage a sit-in at Katz Drug Store in downtown Oklahoma City. Photo credit: Oklahoma Historical Society, John Melton Collection (1958)
Clara Luper boarding a bus
Melton, Johnny. Clara Luper Boarding a Bus, photograph, August 26, 1963; The Gateway to Oklahoma History; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.

For more information, visit the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Read more about Clara Luper at the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.