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Greenwood Dist. – Commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Sit-Ins, the 2023 Freedom Fiesta is proudly presented by the Clara Luper Legacy Committee. At the heart of this event is Clara Luper, an esteemed educator and the guiding force behind the Oklahoma City chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council.

“This event is continuing the legacy of Clara Luper, who is our and Oklahoma’s Godmother of Civil Rights. She is the true example of leadership and commitment for all generations to follow,” Joyce A. Henderson said, who participated with Clara Luper during the sit-ins.

In 1958, Clara Luper and a group of young African American students staged a series of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in downtown Oklahoma City, protesting against racial segregation and demanding equal treatment for all. Their peaceful protests attracted attention and helped to raise awareness about the injustices of segregation.

The theme for this year, titled “Harmony within the Community,” symbolizes the enduring impact and lifelong efforts of Clara Luper, who quite possibly was the pioneer in orchestrating a sit-in protest in the United States. This historic event took place at Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958.

“My interest and reasoning for being a part of the Legacy Committee and being involved in the reenactment every year is to help educate as many people as possible about the story and teachings of Clara Luper. I grew up in Altus, OK, and had never heard of Mrs. Luper until I started working at the History Center in 2019,” Dayna Robinson, who works for the Oklahoma Historical Society, told The Black Wall Street Times.  

“Hearing about what she and her students went through at a time my parents would have gone through it really hit home. As a Black female in Oklahoma who never received the education I should have about Black History while growing up, I am still learning, still absorbing all I can..and I’m starting with those who were there during the sit-in movement in OKC,” Robinson added. 

Participants of the 64 Freedom Fuesta in 2022 | Photo courtesy of Clara Luper Legacy Committee

This year’s celebration includes the following events:

Thursday, August 17, 6 p.m., a gospel musical concert, entitled “We’ve Come This Far by Faith” featuring the Dunjee Choir, the Ambassador Children’s Choir and other musical groups will be held at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nahid Zuhdi Drive.

Friday, August 18, 6 p.m., an art experience inspired by Clara Luper and the 1958 Sit-In movement, along with a panel discussion on the “Freedom Story” by Sit-In participants, will be held at the Contemporary Arts Museum, 11 N.W. 11 Street

Saturday, August 19, 9 a.m., a reenactment of the Oklahoma City Sit-In March will begin at Frontline Church, 1104 N. Robinson and end at Kaiser’s Grateful Bean Café, 1039 N. Walker. The Clara Luper Legacy Committee invites the public and sends a special call out to anyone who had a family member participate in the Oklahoma City Civil Rights Movement to join us in the reenactment and celebration of the 65th Anniversary. 

Sunday, August 20, 6 p.m., The Freedom Fiesta Celebration Program will be held at Fifth Street Baptist Church, 801 N.E. 5th Street, featuring keynote speaker, Pastor A. Byron Coleman, Senior Pastor of Fifth Street Baptist Church

The public is invited to join us in celebration of the 65th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Sit-In.

Nehemiah D. Frank is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Black Wall Street Times and a descendant of two families that survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Although his publication’s store and newsroom...

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