Former students of Clara Luper recall that learning at the civil rights leader's knee was never a spectator sport.
She urged, no, she demanded that young people participate in education, recalled former students and family members at Luper's graveside.
“You can't come in and sit there on your constitutional right,” she'd tell Dunjee High School youngsters, said former student Julie Hunter-Allen.
Others chimed in to complete the sentence, laughing at the memory.
The crowd of about a hundred hung around in the heat after Luper's casket, adorned with white roses and peonies, was slowly lowered into the grave at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery. They shared tales about Luper, laughing and occasionally wiping a tear.
“Earth to earth. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust,” said the Rev. A. Byron Coleman, of Fifth Street Baptist Church.
He reminded the crowd to celebrate her life and legacy and then gently urged them to share memories of her legacy away from the heat. But they seemed reluctant to let go of one of the civil rights movement's most historic figures.
“We didn't read history. We learned history, thanks to Clara Luper,” Hunter-Allen said.
She and others wore a white T-shirt with the history teacher's image emblazoned on it, along with her notable sayings, such as, “Even a young child can lead.” And, “You make you changes in this world.”
Luper was remembered as a strong, bold teacher so much bigger than her diminutive stature might lead one to believe.
Mattie Kilpatrick said life was extraordinary for the roughly 700 students at the all-black school where Luper called children by their last names and demanded they know the capital of all the foreign countries.
Kilpatrick said her brother was buried in March just across the narrow, paved roadway from Luper's burial plot. Though he missed the historic 1958 sit-in at the Katz Drug Store, he frequently participated in other sit-ins she organized.
“What country kid wouldn't want that kind of adventure and a free lunch?” Kilpatrick asked.
Her brother, Cress Davis, was also part of Luper's debate team. Kilpatrick figures the two may be back to debating pretty soon.
Bernice Cooksey said she tried to catch Luper, her former neighbor and sorority sister, on her radio show every Saturday morning.
Eunice Farbes called Luper a community mover and shaker who gave her time, treasures and talent to apply pressure to make things right in the community.
“I hope she knows how much love is being shown her,” said Farbes. “Maybe she is smiling.”
Vernita Smith recalled joining her aunt on many occasions during NAACP activities and at the NAACP Freedom Center. Luper served as both role model and strict teacher regardless of the situation.
She said she'll miss her aunt.
“She was my flower. For our family, she was our strength,” Smith said. “She will live on. She will.”