Horn proposes naming OKC main post office to honor civil rights leader


Representative Kendra Horn (D-OK) discusses the bill she proposed to change an Oklahoma City post office’s name to honor Clara Luper, who was a prominent Civil Rights activist that led the first sit-in protests in Oklahoma. She believes this will help more Oklahomans learn about Luper’s important role in local and national history. Conner Caughlin / Gaylord News

Karalee Langford

WASHINGTON — A downtown Oklahoma City post office could be renamed after a civil rights icon if an Oklahoma congresswoman has her way.

U.S Rep. Representative Kendra Horn (D-OKLA) proposed a bill that would change the name of the downtown Oklahoma City post office to honor Clara Luper, an Oklahoma civil rights leader and activist during the 1950s and 60s. 

“I think one of the things that inspired me to pursue this name change is recognizing the important work that Clara Luper and all those who fought for civil rights in the late 50’s and early 60’s did,” said Horn. “Two years ago, we had the 60th anniversary of the first sit-in that happened in Oklahoma City, which was the first [city] in the country to integrate a lunch counter, and I think it’s time that we honor that, and the work they did and the legacy of civil rights.” 

Horn believes the downtown post office name change will shed light on the topic of Civil Rights leading up to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Oklahoma congresswoman believes Oklahoma’s young people play a role in creating positive change. “I’ve had the chance to get to know some of Clara Luper’s children and the work they’ve done, but also interacting with individuals who, as young people, we’re a part of changing Oklahoma and changing the country,” Horn said. “Those young people saw a problem in something that too many people just accepted and they said, ‘let’s do something about it.’ Let’s make sure people’s voices are heard.” 

Clara Luper was a history teacher at Dunjee High School before becoming a member of the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council. In 1958, Luper lead a sit-in at Katz Drug Store. After being denied service, the group refused to leave, returned the following Saturday and demanded to be heard. Although Luper died in 2011, Horn believes her legacy will live on by changing the name of the downtown Oklahoma Center City Post Office after her. 

“I hope it brings light to her work because I think too many people aren’t aware of it and aware of the impact it had. The post office that we’re seeking to rename is the downtown post office which is right across the street from the Oklahoma City Memorial, recognizing the service and sacrifice and what the Oklahoma City bombing meant to our community,” Horn said. 

The post office is also directly across the street from where Luper and her fellow activists held the sit-in at Katz Drug Store. Horn said, “I think it’s really important that we pay attention to and understand the work that was done and that it was not not that long ago . We still have a lot of work to do but to recognize how far we’ve come.” 

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication