The Oklahoma History Center celebrated the contributions of well-known educator and civil rights leader Clara Luper and the original 13 Katz Drug Store protesters Tuesday morning with a standing-room-only crowd in its main lobby.
Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the lunch counter protests, in which young people helped end the practice of segregation in the state by staging a four-year protest at numerous restaurants in Oklahoma City.
"When this happened, I was a small child in Duncan, OK, and this brings up some memories I hadn't thought of in a long time,” said Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, one of several keynote speakers. She told the diverse crowd about only vaguely remembering a segregated Oklahoma. Then she spoke to the honorees, thanking them for that.
"Your sacrifices made it possible that I would not have to grow up with these images,” she said. "I am grateful that with each generation that's in the state of Oklahoma, we come closer to eliminating those barriers.”
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, also spoke at the event. Many of the speakers took the time to acknowledge the continued contributions of Luper and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Youth Council.
Civil rights leader honored
Luper and the youth council protesters received a resolution from the Oklahoma City Council, a commemorative poster designed in their honor from the national chapter of the NAACP, commemorative coins, and 50 roses from 50 area youths.
Slideshow: Anniversary of lunch counter sit-in