Resistance means going against something. African Americans resisted segregation and racism in many ways, helping to change society. Protests are one form of resistance. Protest is when an individual or group of people publicly show that they disagree with something they feel is bad.

One type of resistance is non-violent resistance. Non-violent resistance is people deciding not to fight even if someone attacks them. One example of someone who used non-violent resistance in Oklahoma is Clara Luper. Clara Luper is the mother of the Civil Rights Movement in Oklahoma. She was a teacher and an advisor for the Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Youth Council. She, along with her students, started one of the first sit-in protests in the country. A sit-in protested segregation at places like restaurants. On August 19, 1958, Luper and her students went to Katz Drugstore in Oklahoma City, sat at the front counter, and ordered cokes. They were denied service, stayed until closing, and came back the next day. They did this until the drug store agreed to serve them. Clara Luper and the sit-in became famous across the nation. Luper continued non-violent resistance to desegregate public places, and police arrested her several times.

African Americans used newspapers as another way to resist racism. George Perkins in Guthrie used his newspaper, the Oklahoma Guide, to encourage civil rights. In Tulsa, A.J. Smitherman ran the Tulsa Daily Star, an African American paper. A white mob destroyed the newspaper building during the Tulsa Race Riot. Roscoe Dunjee, editor of the Oklahoma Black Dispatch, was a leader in the Civil Rights Movements. He used his newspaper to report injustices to the African American community and further goals of the Civil Rights Movement.

Sit-in at Katz Drugstore, August 26, 1958 (20246.38.395.B, John Melton Collection, Oklahoma Historical
Society Research Division).

Top: Clara Luper’s glasses
(2005.205, Clara Luper Collection, Oklahoma Historical Society Collections)

Left: Replica counter from Katz Drugstore
(In Pursuit of the Dream, Oklahoma History Center).

Painting of Roscoe Dunjee by J. Oxford
(11901, Sam Flood Collection, Courtesy of the
Oklahoma Historical Society Research Division).

Back to Main Page