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Senate Passes Bill to Honor Clara Luper, Rename OKC Post Office

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today joined Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Representative Kendra Horn (D-OK) to celebrate Senate passage of a bill to rename the downtown Oklahoma City post office in honor of civil rights hero Clara Luper. Passed by the House in September with the support of Oklahoma’s full congressional delegation, the bill now heads to the White House to be signed into law.

On August 19, 1958, Luper and the NAACP Youth Council led a civil rights sit-in at Oklahoma City’s Katz Drug Store, the first civil rights lunch counter sit-in in America. The sit-in was the first in a series of successful nonviolent protests that led to the desegregation of Oklahoma City establishments. These sit-ins helped inspire lunch counters protests across the South, occurring years before the Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, NC. In 1969, Luper was also the spokesperson for striking sanitation workers in Oklahoma City.

“Naming a post office in Oklahoma City—in the heart of Ms. Luper’s professional, social, and political life—is a meaningful way to honor Clara Luper’s tireless work toward helping our nation form a more perfect union,” said Lankford. “In the years ahead, when kids see Clara Luper‘s name on the building, parents can tell the next generation of Oklahomans about her legacy and work for equality in Oklahoma City and around the country.” 

“Designating the Clara Luper Post Office is long overdue recognition of a remarkable Oklahoman, and I am pleased we passed this legislation today to establish it,” Inhofe said. “Clara Luper had a profound impact on the civil rights movement not just in Oklahoma—but across the country. I am proud that Oklahoma can honor her and her accomplishments permanently in this way, and applaud Sen. Lankford for his years of work to acknowledge, celebrate and affirm the legacy of Oklahomans like Clara Luper.”

“Clara Luper and the sit-inners are true civil rights heroes who never stopped fighting for justice and opportunity for all Oklahomans,” said Horn. “This bill honors their legacy, giving Clara Luper’s name a permanent place in downtown Oklahoma City just blocks from where she led the first sit-in and from the epicenter of the sanitation workers’ strike. Today, the story of Clara Luper and the NAACP Youth Council are inspiring a new generation of Oklahomans to take action. I hope the Clara Luper Post Office can stand as a testament to her enduring legacy, her courage, and her historic fight for justice.”

Luper was a teacher, a lifelong community activist, and a pioneering leader of the American Civil Rights Movement. Luper led 13 children to participate in the first lunch counter sit-in protest at Katz Drug Store. Oklahoma City recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the 1958 sit-ins that integrated the city.