When William Jones thinks about this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations in Oklahoma City, Clara Luper will be on his mind.
Jones has helped organize the parade for the past 10 years. One of his jobs is to make sure the floats are lined up correctly for the Jan. 16 parade. He's part shepherd, part traffic cop.
In addition to King's legacy, Luper's contributions to the Civil Rights Movement are important to remember, he said.
Luper, who died June 8 in Oklahoma City at the age of 88, led sit-in demonstrations at lunch counters in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa during the 1960s. She also served as an Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council leader for 35 years. Her funeral drew 2,000 people.
Luper will be remembered this year during all the Martin Luther King Jr. Day events in Oklahoma City, organizers said.
“The day represents what she stood for, just like it does with MLK,” Jones said. “She was a woman who took action and advocated the same approach as he did.”
Fellow organizer Garland Pruitt, 68, will also be thinking about Luper on Jan. 16.
“Without a doubt she was someone who saw an opportunity to challenge a way of thinking and put forth a lot of effort to change it,” Pruitt said. “She made it her lifelong journey and that's been instilled in us.”