Feast of Clara Luper (June 8)   Leave a comment

Above:  Flag of Oklahoma

CLARA SHEPARD LUPER (MAY 3, 1923-JUNE 8, 2011)

Witness for Civil Rights

I sing a song of the saints of God,

patient and brave and true,

who toiled and fought and lived and died

for the Lord they loved and knew….

They loved their Lord so dear, so dear,

and his love made them strong;

and they followed the right, for Jesus’s sake,

the whole of their good lives long….

They lived not only in ages past,

there are hundreds of thousands still,

the world is bright with the joyous saints

who love to do Jesus’ will….

–Lesbia Scott, “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God,” in The Hymnal 1982, #293

And some of them died last year.

This is and Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  And it is my calendar, so formal canonization by an ecclesiastical authority is not necessary.  Today I add a witness for civil rights in Oklahoma and elsewhere to that roll of honor which includes Apostles, martyrs, theologians, and founders of religious orders.

Clara Luper was born into a segregated society in Oklahoma in 1923.  Her father was a bricklayer and her mother was a laundress.  Since the family was African-American, they could not eat at certain restaurants or attend some schools.  The saint graduated from Langston College in 1944.  Then, in 1950, she and other African Americans integrated the University of Oklahoma.  She graduated with an M.A. in history education in 1951.

She became a high school history teacher and a civil rights activist.  So, in 1958, at Oklahoma City, the saint became a leader in the sit-in movement to integrate dining establishments in that municipality.  She also advised the local NAACP chapters’s Youth Council.  Between 1958 and 1964 the saint played a crucial role in integrating hundreds of establishments in Oklahoma.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course, outlawed racial discrimination in privately owned  public accommodations, such as restaurants.

The saint also sought to improve society in other ways.  She continued her teaching career.  And she participated in the March on Washington (1963) and the marches at Selma, Alabama (1965).  The saint also ran for the United States Senate in 1972.

Clara Luper died in 2011, aged 88 years.  The State of Oklahoma had honored her by then.

Those who claim that one person cannot change society are mistaken.  Society is concrete, not abstract.  It is simply us.  It is what we have made it; so we can change it.  May we do so for the better, expanding civil rights and diminishing discrimination, among other things.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 8, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT II, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF DAME JULIAN OF NORWICH, SPIRITUAL WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAGDALENA OF CANOSSA, FOUNDER OF THE DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY AND THE SONS OF CHARITY

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER OF TARENTAISE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For Additional Reading:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/12/us/12luper.html

http://newsok.com/civil-rights-leader-clara-luper-has-died/article/3575634

http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/L/LU005.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/09/clara-luper-died_n_874244.html

http://city-sentinel.com/?p=1325

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image.

Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with opression.

Help us, like your servant Clara Luper,

to work for justice among people and nations,

to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

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