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Clara Mae Shepard Luper

Born on 5-3-1923. She was born in Hoffman, OK. She later died on 6-8-2011.
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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.

Throughout Mrs. Luper's extraordinary career, she has received honors and awards totaling more than 472. Included among them are, the Langston Alumni Award, Phi Beta Sigma Service Award, Robert A. Taft Scholarship, Phi Beta Sigma Service Award, Oklahoma Federated Women's Club Service Award, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Woman of the Year, NAACP Regional Voter Registration Award, NAACP National Advisor of the Year Award, NAACP National Service Citation, Pioneer Woman Award, Presidential Citation awarded by the National Association for Higher Education and, recently, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed Bill 2715, naming a state highway in her honor. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Afro-American Hall of Fame and was appointed Honorary Colonel in the Oklahoma National Guard.

Mrs. Luper's special achievements include being the First African American Vice President of the Oklahoma City Social Science Teachers Association, First African American Vice President of the Oklahoma County Teacher's Association and First African American student to enroll in the History Department at the University of Oklahoma.

She is the founder of Black Voices Magazine, called America's Voice Magazine. She is the author of the book, Behold the Walls and Facts About the Black History Monument and Walls. Mrs. Luper wrote, produced and directed the movie, "Brother President," the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She is the director of the radio show, "A Visit with Clara Luper," that was carried on three radio stations in Oklahoma City.

Mrs. Luper is the founder of the Black History Monument and Wall, Freedom Center, Inc., Amigos Club, and Co-Founder of the Miss Merry Christmas Pageant and the Soul Bazaar. She is well known for her work in the Miss Black Oklahoma pageant. As one of the most dynamic speakers in Oklahoma, she is frequently asked to address churches, colleges, universities, prisons, sororities, juvenile homes, Masonic groups and family reunions.

She is a member of Fifth Street Baptist Church where she is active in a number of special projects and counts among her many church endeavors, past head of the intermediate Department of the Baptist Training Union and Chairman of the Black History Committee.

Mrs. Luper is most proud of the work she has done with the NAACP youth. When speaking to audiences, she tells of the challenges, setbacks, and victories of the early activists, how far we've come in America and of dreams yet to be realized.

She is the mother of three grown children and grandmother of three.