By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Historical Society will host a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Sit-In Civil Rights Movement in Oklahoma City. This free event will take place on Thursday, August 16, from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The OKC sit-in movement began when 13 children, under the leadership of the late Clara Luper, a teacher turned activist, protested segregation at Katz Drug Store in downtown Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958.
The event will celebrate the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council and the many that later joined Luper to protest segregation in public accommodations that began with the August 19, 1958 sit-in. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, will welcome guests to the celebration. The Ambassadors Concert Choir will perform at the event.
The evening will feature a viewing of a new documentary entitled Remembering the Sit-In, which contains several interviews of NAACP Youth Council participants.
There will also be a screening of excerpts from the documentary Through the Looking Glass Darkly, produced by New York Times best-selling author and Today show television journalist Bob Dotson.
At the time Dotson produced Through the Looking Glass Darkly about Oklahoma’s African American history, he was working in Oklahoma City.
Dotson will be a special guest at the celebration. He has traveled more than four million miles, crisscrossing America almost nonstop for half a century while searching for people who are practically invisible—the ones who change our lives but do not take time to tweet and tell us about it.
His long-running series, “The American Story” was a regular feature on the Today show until his retirement on the 40th anniversary of the day he joined NBC. He is the author of three books, including American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things.
Joyce Jackson, President and Chief Consultant of Communications Plus, will moderate a panel discussion with Dotson and two of the documentary’s other filmmakers, Oliver Murray and George Wesley Sr.
“Let us not forget our past and continue to build on our future,” said Jackson, who was involved in the movement.
The 60th Anniversary of the Sit-In Civil Rights Movement Planning Committee noted that the history of Oklahoma and America is filled with the lives of great men and women who by their sacrifices changed the course of history.
Recognition of the Sit-In anniversary will culminate with the August 19 anniversary program at Fifth Street Baptist Church, at 801 NE 5th Street, in Oklahoma City.
Marilyn Luper-Hildreth, daughter of the late Clara Luper, told News9 reporter Jessi Mitchell, “We all worked together for a common cause for America.”
Other scheduled events taking place that week include:
Friday, August 17, at 6 p.m. a program at the Fairview Baptist Church, 1700 NE 7th Street, will include a screening of the Children of the Civil Rights documentary film, the Historical Collection of Clara Luper, and a Minute Men Commandos Tribute.
A public Re-Enactment of the Sit-In in downtown Oklahoma City will take place on Saturday, August 18 at 9 a.m. at Kaiser’s in Midtown, 1039 N Walker Avenue.
On Saturday, August 18 at 7 p.m., a program will be held at Page-Woodson “Auditorium at the Douglass”, 600 N. High Avenue, which will include the Dunjee All School Community Fellowship Choir, Clara Luper’s Play, and an excerpt from the OETA Conversation with Clara Luper.
On Sunday, August 19, at 6 p.m. at Fifth Street Baptist Church, 801 NE 5th Street, there will be music and an address from keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, Pastor of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, CA.
For more information contact Joyce Jackson, 405-642-4486.