Wayback Wednesday: Sit-in at Katz
On August 19, 1958 Clara Luper, three adult chaperones and 14 members of a local NAACP Youth Council walked into the Katz Drug Store at 200 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City and ordered some Coca-Colas.
To nobody's surprise they were denied service. The chain had a rule prohibiting blacks from sitting at the lunch counter. That didn't matter much to Luper and those who joined her. They sat there until the store closed.
It was a tactic they would repeat in the weeks to come.
The sit-ins drew media attention. The folks at Katz didn’t much care for the coverage, so they took steps to allow blacks to sit at their lunch counters in 38 stores in Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa. It was one of the first steps to ending segregation in Oklahoma City.
The Katz sit-ins were some of the Civil Rights movement's early steps forward in Oklahoma. And the tactic of peaceful disobedience became a powerful tool for activists during the rest of the decade and into the 1960's.
And Luper wasn’t done, either. She became an outspoken advocate for civil rights for decades to come. Luper fought for better housing and employment opportunities and integration of theaters, hotels and cafes across Oklahoma, taking her place alongside some of the great civil rights leaders of her time.