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Oklahoma civil rights activist Clara Luper dies

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Clara Luper died Wednesday at 88
  • Luper was an active member of the Oklahoma NAACP
  • She is survived by her daughters, son and grandchildren
  • In 1958, Luper organized a sit-in at a Oklahoma City drug store

(CNN) -- Oklahoma civil rights activist and educator Clara Luper -- was best known for organizing a 1958 sit-in at a segregated Katz Drug Store in downtown Oklahoma City -- died Wednesday night at her home in Oklahoma City. She was 88.

Luper, who was celebrated as a pioneer of civil rights in Oklahoma, organzied a protest that lasted several days and ultimately resulted in the integration of 38 Katz Drug Stores in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett requested that all flags on city property to be flown at half staff in honor of Luper and her contribution to the city.

In a statement issued from his office, Cornett described Luper as a "great Oklahoman and a great American."

"While her accomplishments are too many to list, her legacy is easily defined," Cornett said in the statement.

"She made Oklahoma and the United States of America a better place to live and was a shining example of the distinctly American idea that while we might hail from many cultures, we are one people."

Throughout the 1960s, Luper worked with the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to stage sit-ins and non-violent protests which ultimately led to the desegregation of restaurants in Oklahoma City.

In an interview with CNN affiliate KWTV, Luper's son, Calvin, said his mother was surrounded by family at the time of her death.

He added, though she's known for organizing the single sit-in, his mother was dedicated to making the life of citizens in Oklahoma better.

"Now we have to step up to the plate and accept the responsibility and do what Mom wanted us to do, and that would be to carry on her legacy of honesty and do anything else that would make our city and state a great place."

Luper is survived by her two daughters, a son and grandchildren.