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Katz Drug and Clara Luper

Sitting down with OKC’s civil rights legacy



 


 


Long before a Walgreens or CVS occupied nearly every corner, there was Katz. The chain of “cut-rate” drug stores had its humble beginnings in Kansas City in the early part of the 20th century.  Eventually, it expanded to 65 stores in five states, including locations in Oklahoma City. The downtown store was located at 200 W Main, and its lunch counter was a favorite among locals.
 

 “Most drug stores of that era had a lunch counter,” says Larry O’Dell, director of development and special projects at the Oklahoma Historical Society. “It was a long counter where folks could sit and order café food and soft drinks. They were less formal than restaurants, and usually quicker.”

The lunch counter was a nice place to stop for an ice cold Coca-Cola or a hamburger and take a bit of a breather – unless you happened to be black. In those days, dining establishments, water fountains and even elevators were still very separate.

But that changed in 1958 when Clara Luper entered Katz and made her stand. Luper was an Oklahoma City school teacher, and eventually became known as the “mother” of the state’s civil rights movement.

“Mrs. Luper took over the NAACP youth council in 1957 and decided to stage her first sit-in at Katz in August of 1958,” O’Dell says. “There were mixed reactions to the sit-in, with many people of the era very belligerent to the demonstrators.”


When Luper and her young entourage sat down at the Katz lunch counter, they were promptly denied service. So they sat, hour after hour, and returned the next day. Eventually, Katz’s management relented, and some white customers offered to buy lunch for the polite young crowd. The sit-in prompted Katz to change its segregation policy – not just in Oklahoma, but in other states, as well.

“That was the precursor to other civil rights demonstrations that occurred in the 1960s,” O’Dell says. “Clara Luper led protests against other segregation policies, including Doe Doe Park in Lawton in 1966, and helped with Oklahoma City’s sanitation strike in 1969.”

The Katz store in Oklahoma City eventually was demolished as part of the Urban Renewal efforts in the 1960s and 1970s, but holds a unique place in the city’s struggle for civil rights.

“Oklahoma City desegregated very quickly,” O’Dell says. “The Katz protests were peaceful, and much less violent than most southern cities. But Katz was really the beginning.” 

 

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Calendar

May 2018

The Blue Dome Arts Festival is an annual community event that focuses on promoting local artists, handcrafters and performers and has become a spring tradition for families across our great state....

Cost: Free

Where:
2nd & Elgin
200 S. Elgin Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: 405.236.3100
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This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
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No Events

Join the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy as we "wrap up" OK Foster Wishes for the season and kick off 2018! Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks while seeing your impact...

Cost: $50-$75

Where:
Dunlap Codding
609 W Sheridan Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73102, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: 405.236.5437
Contact Name: Miranda Hines
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

 This championship is a three-day event taking place at J.L. Johnson Stadium.

Cost: $8-$18

Where:
J.L. Johnson Stadium
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918.495.6000
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

 This championship is a three-day event taking place at J.L. Johnson Stadium.

Cost: $8-$18

Where:
J.L. Johnson Stadium
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918.495.6000
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

 This championship is a three-day event taking place at J.L. Johnson Stadium.

Cost: $8-$18

Where:
J.L. Johnson Stadium
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918.495.6000
Website »

More information

Oklahoma City's premier platform for improvised comedy theatre features weekly performances with shows Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Each show is $10, or see both for $15. Enjoy...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
NOIR Bistro & Bar
701 West Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
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More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

 This championship is a three-day event taking place at J.L. Johnson Stadium.

Cost: $8-$18

Where:
J.L. Johnson Stadium
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Telephone: 918.495.6000
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator’s Fun Park & Water Park is celebrating Memorial Day Weekend with $5 off Dual Park Passes. The passes include unlimited rides and attractions at both great parks for only...

Cost: $29.99

Where:
Andy Alligator’s Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »


Sponsor: Andy Alligator’s Fun Park & Water Park
Telephone: 405.321.7275
Website »

More information

Oklahoma City's premier platform for improvised comedy theatre features weekly performances with shows Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm and 9:30pm. Each show is $10, or see both for $15. Enjoy...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
NOIR Bistro & Bar
701 West Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: OKC Improv
Telephone: 405.456.9858
Website »

More information

The evening Cocktail Cruise offers stunning views of the downtown skyline, the Boathouse District and Finish Line Tower, the Wheeler Ferris wheel and quite possibly an amazing Oklahoma sunset. Come...

Cost: $15 for Seniors and kids under 12, $20 Adults

Where:
Regatta Landing
701 S. Lincoln Blvd.
OKC, OK  73109
View map »


Telephone: 405.702.7755
Contact Name: Business Office
Website »

More information

Commemorating the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and diverse collection of art created by or about...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

This new solo exhibition uniquely presents a selected survey of rarely seen experimental short films and video installations by Weerasethakul, alongside his photography, sketches and archival...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Telephone: 405.236.3100
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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