OKCPS Board To Consider Naming Admin Office After Education & Civil Rights Advocate Clara Luper

  • Oklahoma City, OK— After meeting with district leadership and members of the Clara Luper Legacy Committee, including Clara Luper’s daughter, Marilyn Luper Hildreth, the OKCPS Board of Education announced today that they will consider naming district’s future administrative offices after one of the district’s former and most remarkable teachers. The proposed name is The Clara Luper Center for Educational Services

    “I feel honored, elated and proud. My mother dedicated her life to education, always calling her students her 'diamonds'. She believed that all children could learn, and she took time to find different ways to teach and more importantly to reach each one of them,” said Marilyn Luper Hildreth, Clara Luper’s daughter. “She used to say ‘I want you to go places I’ve never been and dream the dreams I’ve never dreamed -- and the only way you can do it is through education.’ She touched the lives of so many people here in Oklahoma City, in our state and even our nation. I’m so grateful that the OKCPS Board of Education is considering naming their new building after my mother,” she said.

    Clara Luper (1923-2011), an Oklahoman and former teacher, was a civic leader and a pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement. She obtained her B.A. in mathematics from Langston University and in 1950 she became the first African American student in the graduate history program at the University of Oklahoma, where she received a M.A. in History Education. Luper was also the advisor for the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council. In 1958, she led the Oklahoma City sit-in movement, where alongside members of the NAACP and her two young children, she successfully conducted nonviolent sit-in protests in drugstores and restaurants that helped end segregation policies in the downtown area.  Luper continued her advocacy efforts in the state helping desegregate hundreds of establishments in Oklahoma. She was also an activist at the national level and participated in the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King gave his illustrious ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches. She was also a teacher for 40 years, spending time at Dunjee High School, Douglass Mid-High School, NW Classen High School and John Marshall Mid-High School.        

    “I am thrilled that our Board of Education will consider naming our new Administrative Offices after Clara Luper at our November 13th meeting” said Board Chair Paula Lewis. “In addition to her Civil Rights work, Ms. Luper was a remarkable OKCPS teacher who touched many young lives for nearly 40 years. She was the embodiment of the fight for equity—a cause that our Board of Education continues to champion through policy and practice with dreams of equal access to educational opportunity for every child—regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or zip code,” she added.          

    “Clara Luper is a national treasure in the fight for civil rights for all Americans and her leadership in the 1958 OKC Sit-In Movement was the first and longest recorded in U.S. History,” said Charles Henry, Board Member representing District 1. “It will be a well-deserved honor for the OKCPS Board, the City of Oklahoma City, and State of Oklahoma, to have the new administration building named after her.”

    “I have had the honor of knowing and working with Mrs. Luper during my work at the Oklahoma City Urban League in the 80’s and 90’s,” said Ruth Veales, Board Member representing District 5. “She was a wealth of knowledge and wisdom on so many levels. Once the discussion of naming the Oklahoma City Public School Administration Building by Board Members and Superintendent began, it was a no brainer. The timing could not be better for our district as we move forward in the spirit of equity (including racial equity) that our district has adopted for closing the gap in educational achievement experience for all students. Naming the administrative building after Mrs. Clara Luper makes my heart proud to be a part of honoring such a deserving trailblazer in our history on a local, state and national level,” she added.          

    “I hope every time someone says the name of this building, they are reminded of Mrs. Luper’s work and her legacy,” said Carrie Jacobs, Board Member representing District 3 and Chair of the Operations Committee for the OKCPS Board of Education. “I hope that every time we say her name, we are reminded to carry that torch.” 

    OKCPS Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel invites others to voice their support as well. “We have received numerous letters from the community and organizations supporting the name recommendation for our new administration building, including letters from the Clara Luper Legacy Committee, the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Concerned Clergy for Spiritual Renewal, and others. It is clear that Ms. Luper’s legacy continues to impact and inspire so many, and I encourage those who wish to review, create, submit, or sign a letter of support for this resolution, to please visit: www.okcps.org/ClaraLuper

    A reception will be hosted by the Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce at Northeast Academy following the Board of Education meeting on November 13. The new administration building will be located at 615 Classen Boulevard and doors are expected to open in the Winter of 2019.


    About Oklahoma City Public Schools

    Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) is a multi-cultural district serving approximately 46,000 students, including charter schools. Our students are educated throughout 54 neighborhood elementary schools, 16 secondary schools, 2 special centers and 15 charter schools located in a 135.5 square miles in the center of Oklahoma.  For more information, visit www.okcps.org.