Civil Rights

On August 19, 1958, 7-year-old Ayanna Najuma, and a group of 12 students together with a High School teacher named Clara Luper, set the stage for a civil rights protest that would sweep the nation in the 1960’s and continues to resonate in modern America through movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his practice of nonviolent protest, the plan was simple. The students would occupy the ‘white’ only lunch counter of a drug store called Katz and ask ask to be served a hamburger and a coca-cola. When they were inevitably denied service on the grounds that the lunch counter was for ‘whites only’ they would refuse to leave and stay seated in their seats until closing. This sit-in protest was one of the first in the civil rights movement, happening 18 months before black college students took seats at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Over the next six years, Ayanna and her fellow civil rights demonstrators, led one of the longest nonviolent sit-in protests in the United States desegregating almost every eating establishment in their home city of Oklahoma’s capital. Ayanna was just 7-years-old when on a hot august day she took her place on a stool embracing a passion and purpose that would not only have an impact on her life, but arguably the life of every American who has come after. This is her story.   Host: Richard Janes Guest: Ayanna Najuma

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