Clara Luper production honors civil rights activist
The production centers on Clara Luper, who died June 8 in Oklahoma City at age 88, as she remembers the events of her life, including her role in the Civil Rights Movement.
BY MATT PATTERSON •
Published: February 6, 2012
/articleid/3646563/1/pictures/1631349"> From left, Quincy Allen, Eboni Wilson, LaCharles Purvey, Trena Brown and Chris Shepard rehearse Feb. 1 for the Rhythmically Speaking presentation of “Sitting In with Clara” the Belle Isle Library. Photos by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
The Midwest City High School student began acting when he was 7 but admits his life has been easier than Luper’s.
“Because of the time I was born I’ve gone to a school with a lot of diversity,” he said. “I’ve never been to an all-black school. I’ve never been to a restaurant and been kicked out because I’m black. To know that this happened in our history is mind-boggling.”
That’s how Sandy Oliver, 48, feels. Clad in an apron and hair net, she plays a bigoted waitress at one of the restaurants targeted by Clara Luper and her students.
“I have to portray someone who is a racist and I’m not,” she said.
“But it’s important as a white person to portray the truth. What Clara Luper did, and the impact she had on Oklahoma as a whole, was important and I think this play gets that across beautifully.”
Trena Brown, 57, plays Barbara Posey, a student of Clara Luper’s when she taught at John Marshall High School.
“I saw how she was loved by her students,” Brown said. “I saw all the creative ways she drew the students in and how she treated them with respect and insisted they respected each other.”
Williams said capturing Luper was difficult because she only met her a few times.
“There are many people in Oklahoma City that had direct contact with her and had their own relationships with her,” Williams said. “But I think we’ve captured the spirit of who she was and what she accomplished very well.”