Obit of the Day: “Thirteen Cokes, Please.”
Clara Luper, an Oklahoma history teacher, ordered those Cokes at Katz Drugstore in Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958 for herself and twelve children, ages 6 to 17. Lunch counters in Oklahoma, like much of the South, were segregated. This wasn’t just a request for drinks, but a request for civil rights.
Waitresses ignored them. Other patrons did not: leaving the restaurant, pouring drinks on them, cursing at them. (Did I mention there were children as young as six?) The group left after a few hours without a drink. They returned the next day and were served their Cokes, and burgers, too.
“Within that hamburger was the whole essence of democracy.” - Clara Luper
Note: This took place a year and a half before the much more famous sit-in at the Greensboro (NC) Woolworth’s on February 1, 1960.
Luper would continue her fight to desegregate public spaces in Oklahoma City. She was arrested 26 times between 1958 and the passage of Oklahoma law to desegregate. (Passed two days after the Civil Rights Act.)
(Fantastic image is courtesy of Black Past.)