Clara Luper
U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK5.), whose Clara Luper Post Office Building bill passed the Senate, delivers her final House address on Thursday, Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of C-SPAN)

The bill to rename the downtown Oklahoma City post office after civil rights icon Clara Luper is headed to the president’s desk. 

The Clara Luper Post Office Building bill, originally introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D-OK5) nearly a year ago, passed in the Senate by unanimous consent Thursday, Dec. 17. The next step before the post office at 305 N.W. 5th St. in Oklahoma City can be officially renamed is for the president to sign the bill into law.

“Clara Luper and the sit-inners are true civil rights heroes,” Horn said in a statement. “I was proud to see my bill honoring their work and renaming the downtown OKC post office pass the Senate. The Clara Luper Post Office will be a reminder of Luper’s legacy and her historic fight for justice.”

Gaylord NewsThis story was reported by Gaylord News, a Washington reporting project of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma. 

A schoolteacher turned activist, Clara Luper led the first civil rights lunch counter sit-in against segregation in America at Oklahoma City’s Katz Drug Store in August 1958. Her leadership of the NAACP Youth Council inspired further nonviolent protests and demonstrations throughout the South, including the famed Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins two years later in Greensboro, North Carolina.

With the support of the four Republican members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, Horn’s bill unanimously passed the House in September. It had been referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs where Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) is chairman of its regulatory subcommittee. 

“In the years ahead, when kids see Clara Luper’s name on the building, parents can tell the next generation of Oklahomans about her legacy and work for equality in Oklahoma City and around the country,” Lankford said in a statement.

Oklahoma’s other U.S. senator agreed.

“Designating the Clara Luper Post Office is long overdue recognition of a remarkable Oklahoman, and I am pleased we passed this legislation to establish it,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

The bill’s passage in both chambers of Congress holds special significance for Horn, who leaves the office of Oklahoma’s Fifth District on January 3 and delivered her final address to the House floor the same night the Senate approved the legislation.

“Service is not about winning at all costs, and it’s not about ‘us vs. them,’” Horn said. “It’s about all of us working together. Service means leaving the world and our country a better place than we found it. I still believe that we can do that, that we must do that.

“We must face the realities of inequity and injustice and systemic racism and the work that is yet to be done to build a stronger America.”