FEMILIST FRIDAY: CLARA LUPER & MARILYN LUPER HILDRETH
#5. A mother-daughter duo.
- •I had one woman in mind for my list this week, but then both our President and VP failed to give proper recognition to the civil rights movement in their Black History month comments and I made a switch.
- •Last night I heard Charles Black speak on his experience as Chairman of the Atlanta Student Movement, and I decided to look into youth and women leaders of the movement for my list this week.[Side note: I also learned last night that Charles is an actor! In addition to being a civil rights activist and leader & a board member of Freedom U Georgia, he has had roles in The Patriot, Need for Speed, and many more! What a guy.]
- •That's how I came across Marilyn and Clara.
- •In a shift from my previous format, this week I'm going to outline a bit of background, and then let Marilyn do the story telling. I came across an oral history video recording she did a few years back, and there's no point of me doing the "talking" on her behalf.Feel free to skip straight to that link - it's at the bottom of the list!
- •Clara LuperBorn May 1923 in rural Oklahoma. 1944 - she received a BA in mathematics and a minor in history. In 1950 she became the first African American student in the graduate history program at U of OK. She became an educator and became involved in the NAACP Youth Council. She participated in the March on Washington, the Selma to Montgomery marches, and was the spokesperson for striking sanitation workers in their 1969 strike in Oklahoma City.
- •Clara also led one of the first civil rights protests - the Katz Drug Store sit-in. The sit-in was said to have been a result of Marilyn asking her mother (Clara) why she couldn't just go in the store at home and order a Coke and a burger. Marilyn had joined others in a NAACP Youth Council trip to NY where they experienced eating in restaurantsand staying in hotels for the first time. Observing the way their experiences in NY were different from life at home led the children to ask questions that led to the first sit-in.
- •Marilyn Luper HildrethShe was 8 years old when her mother brought her (and her brother, Calvin) along for the 1958 Katz drug store sit-in. She & 12 other children entered the store with Clara, ordered, and were refused service. They returned for days after until they were finally served. Other sit-ins expanded throughout Oklahoma City and went on for 4 years, integrating each establishment as they went.
- •Here is the link to Marilyn's oral history interview: https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2010039_crhp0012/ She discusses her experiences in the events I outlined above, and her mother's background. The link for her brother Calvin's interview is here: https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2010039_crhp0013/There are also transcripts for each video at each link if you prefer to read.
- •This quote from Marilyn stood out to me in particular: "Every Saturday of my young life was spent protesting. We did not have the joys of going to amusement parks, because they were not open to us."In case we need any more motivation to stand up for human rights today, think of the kids and adults who were fighting (and continue to fight) for their rights every moment of their lives. If 8 year old Marilyn could do it, we all can make a few phone calls and have some conversations (at the very least) every day.