In Crow laws, were strictly enforced in the

In 1958, if a person walked into a restaurant, they could be denied service simply because of the color of their skin. Segregation laws, or Jim Crow laws, were strictly enforced in the Southern United States. Those discriminated against wanted these laws changed, so they decided to fight for their rights. Clara Luper, an African American woman, sat in a segregated Katz drug store with her students and children in attempt to change their policy. After two days of Luper’s protest, Katz lifted the racial ban in three states. The sit in movement Luper organized inside Katz drug store created a conflict for the chain, and resulted in a compromise to desegregate many places throughout the nation. Clara Luper arranged a sit in with her daughter and the children from the NAACP youth group she mentored.

The sit in lasted two days, but it all began on Tuesday, August 19, 1958. Luper and the children took seats at the Katz drug store lunch counter in Oklahoma City. When asked why she brought those children with her, she explained that “Even a young child can lead” and everyone can make changes in the world (Luper 1959). Segregation was the first law passed in Oklahoma, and people were not judged by their personalities and talents, but by the color of their skin. Luper’s daughter, Marilyn Hildreth, said “We could go down in downtown Oklahoma City and shop in any store, but you could not try on a hat.

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You could not try on shoes. … You could not eat in any restaurant, you would have to go to the back of restaurants and they would pass you a brown bag” (3:07- 3:35).

All stores were segregated, and the waiters at Katz refused to serve Luper. She knew what she had to do in order to change their views.The civil rights movement was just going underway when Luper entered the Katz.

The early 1950’s were a time that the NAACP was challenging Jim Crow laws strongly and forcefully. An old court case in 1896 called Plessy v Ferguson deemed segregated facilities “separate but equal”, but in 1954, a famous lawsuit called Brown v. Board of Education revoked this ruling, and called it “inherently unequal”.

This sparked African Americans to change the nation and attempt to desegregate places in their communities. Segregation and racism were fueled because many people believed blacks were struggling because of their biological and cultural differences instead of the segregation and discrimination against them, snowballing into even more racial prejudice. “These causes of racial segregation form a vicious circle, via the ways segregation, in turn, causes concentrated urban poverty among African-Americans and Hispanics, which reinforces racial prejudice” (Causes of Segregation). People would attribute characteristics associated with people, like poverty, to their race rather than the unfair circumstances they were forced into.

Clara Luper was evoked to protest mainly because of the Jim Crow laws, which put her at a disadvantage. 13 children were sitting at the counter, and “they endured racial slurs while being scalded with hot grease, punched, kicked and spat on” (Hall). When Clara Luper sat boldly at the counter, it helped the civil rights movement live on. People all around did similar things, like Rosa Parks, The Little Rock Nine, Edna Griffin and many others. Brown vs Board of Education and Plessy vs Ferguson raised awareness and caused the beginning to the end of segregation.

Some people overlook Luper’s protest. Many credit the Greensboro, North Carolina sit ins to inventing the non-violent sit in protest, like this source, “Four African American college students walked up to a whites-only lunch counter at the local Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, and asked for coffee. When service was refused, the students sat patiently. …

The civil rights sit-in was born. No one participated in a sit-in of this sort without the seriousness of purpose” (U.S. History).

Clara Luper should be a household name and known as one of the first sit in protests. Another reason Luper protested, was that after she wrote a play, she took the 13 children in her youth council group to New York City. On the way there, they drove the Northern route, where they had just as many freedoms as the white people there. On the way back, they drove the Southern route, where stores, phone booths, and water fountains were segregated. They realized the rights they were missing and decided to make a change in their hometown.”This display was one of the first of its kind, and it opened doors to many similar displays across the nation” (Hall).

There were countless benefits to Clara Luper’s sit in. This movement inspired others to stand up, fight, and change the Jim Crow laws, too. People who supported desegregation, like other African Americans, benefited from Luper’s actions. It showed the NAACP students that they are able to make a change. Luper’s activism work convinced the Katz drug store to take their segregation policy away.On the other hand, the civil rights movement cost many people their jobs or their lives, because when they were protesting, those who supported segregation would do anything in their ability to stop them. Some people believed that the segregation laws should have stayed the same because of their racial prejudice.

The civil rights movement harmed a few activists who spoke out. They were lynched or threatened with violence if they spoke out against the racial injustice they faced. The people sitting at the Katz drug store lunch counter were tormented and hurt, but not severely.

The benefits of this event greatly outnumber the concerns.Some believed that people of color should not be allowed to do the same things as whites. They believed that their race is superior.

Others think race should not matter, and that everyone should be treated equally. The Katz drug store in Oklahoma City did not think that blacks should be allowed to eat inside their restaurant, so Clara Luper and the 13 children non-violently protested until they were allowed inside. After Katz changed their policy, the same group of people desegregated many other stores in the area. Luper’s daughter said that they were on a mission, and “that mission would not be complete until every restaurant in Oklahoma City would allow people of color and not discriminate because of the fact that they were black” (8:33-8:46). The sit in inside of Katz received local and national attention because the protest was one of the first of its kind. Luper’s personality is caring. She cared for her rights, and for her children. She made sure that her kids were smart, “a lot of kids would get a lot of toys for Christmas.

We would get books. It is something she believed in, And when she believed in something strong enough, she would go to the end of the world for it” (9:54-10:09).Clara Luper’s action impacted the civil rights movement greatly. She influenced others to protest and desegregated stores all around Oklahoma City.

She taught her family and students how to get what is rightful and end what is wrong. Her protest desegregated Katz drug stores in 3 states. In the 1950’s, there were many other drug store sit ins. One example is Edna Griffin, she also sat in a Katz drug store.

She was in Des Moines Iowa and held a sit in in 1948, 10 years before Clara Luper. The Katz changed its segregation policy, but only for the month of December. Today, some people are still discriminated because of their race. African American people sometimes are not paid equally, “Black two-parent families earn only 13 percent less than those who are white” (Thernstrom). Another example of a group of people discriminated against today are Muslims. “Many Americans are suspicious of their beliefs and motives, and Muslims perceive widespread hostility toward their faith” (Green). After 1988 John F. Kennedy was elected, Clara Luper was ecstatic because he was “a spark of hope in a very dark period of history.

” “We saw in him the realization of the American dream. If a Catholic could make it, somebody as black as me could make it. It opened the door for a Jesse Jackson” (Luper). Society has learned that standing up for what you think is right will cause a change. Anybody of any color or religion can achieve their dreams. Clara Luper changed U.S.

laws. Her protest changed segregation and greatly impacted the civil rights movement with one of the very first sit in protests. Clara Luper spread a message of equality, and today, equality is still important and we need to practice fighting for equal rights just as much as we did in 1958. There needs to be equality for every race, not just for the white or black.

“I came from a family of believers. We believed in the sun when it didn’t shine. We believed in the rain when it wasn’t raining.

My parents taught me to believe in a God I couldn’t see” (Luper 2008). Luper’s sit in protest created conflict for the Katz drug store, and the Katz drug store compromised to desegregate their stores.


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