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Katz Drug Store Lunch Counter Sit-In /
Will Rogers & Wiley Post Crash

August 16, 2000

Historian's Notes

Lunch counter sit-ins occurred all across the country, but they started here in Oklahoma. The courage, determination and perseverance of the participants can never be overstated. When I see pictures from these events the first thing that I notice is the hatred emanating from the white onlookers as they curse, spit, and throw garbage on the participants. It's overwhelming and makes me never want to hate anything.

Clara Luper, we ALL should salute you.

After Will Rogers' and Wiley Postís tragic deaths the entire country mourned.

Resources for "Katz Drug Store Lunch Counter Sit-In":

Luper, C. (1979). Behold the walls. [Oklahoma City?]: Jim Wire.

I found out about Clara Luper initially by typing "Clara Luper" in an Internet search engine. A number of good sites are out there to be explored.

Resources for "Will Rogers & Wiley Post Crash":

Most of Oklahomaís newspapers were full of news of the accident but the majority of this information came from:

Tulsa Tribune. August 16, 1935.

Almanac Transcript

Hello, I'm Steven Kite welcoming you to the Oklahoma Audio Almanac where we turn the pages of history to bring you the stories of our state's past.

This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the famous "Katz Drug Store Lunch Counter Sit-In." It was August 19th, 1958 that thirty-five year old Clara Luper led a group of protestors into the Oklahoma City drug store. Clara and her companions, all being African-American were refused service and told to leave. Rather than quietly exiting the store, the group sat down at the lunch counter and refused to move until they were served. The protestors endured being cursed at, spit on, taunted with racial slurs and having food and drink thrown at them by the angry white mob crowded around them. Law enforcement officials eventually removed the group of protestors who were led away through a gauntlet of jeering spectators. The lunch counter sit-in at Katz sparked other such events around the city, state and country. The protest in Oklahoma City, recognized as the first of its kind in the United States, was ultimately successful and in 1964 Katz Drug store began serving people of all races. For Clara Luper her arrest at the Katz sit-in marked just one of twenty-six eventual arrests during her crusades for equality; she remains to this day an active participant in the fight for civil rights.

On August 16, 1935 Oklahoman's and persons throughout the world gathered together to mourn the death of humorist Will Rogers and famed aviator Wiley Post. Native Oklahoman's Rogers and Post were flying from Fairbanks, Alaska on their way to visit the northern most settlement in America when their plane, just seconds after take-off, plunged fifty feet into shallow water instantly killing Rogers and Post. Investigators at the crash site reported that the wrist watch worn by Post had been crushed in the wreck marking the time of the wreck as 8:18 pm Thursday, August 15th.

Will Rogers comedian, actor and entertainer was one of the countries most beloved celebrities known around the world for his kind smile and quick wit. Wiley Post a native of Maysville, Oklahoma was regarded by many as one of the foremost authorities on aviation. Post constantly pushed the envelope of high altitude and long distance flight. Continuously setting new altitude records, it was Wiley Post who first constructed and pioneered the use of pressurized suits for high altitude flight. In one night, in one tragic accident, Oklahoma lost two of its most beloved citizens...and that's what happened this week in Oklahoma history.

I'm Steven Kite.

The Oklahoma Audio Almanac is a production of the OSU Library and Oklahoma's Public Radio.

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