In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Karlos Hill concerning the life and legacy of educator-activist Clara Luper. Dr. Hill is Associate Professor and Chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches the history of racial violence in the U.S. He serves on the Facing History and Ourselves Board of Scholars. He is the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History, as well as a forthcoming book entitled The Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History. In 2023, Dr. Hill plans to publish a new edition of Clara Luper’s memoir Behold the Walls that chronicles the Oklahoma City Sit-In Movement. In this interview, we discuss the history of the Oklahoma City Sit-Ins and Clara Luper’s approach to teaching as an educator-activist. Luper was a history teacher at Dunjee High School in 1957 when she became an adviser to the Oklahoma City NAACP’s Youth Council. In that role, she helped to spark a desegregation movement that would sweep the country.
After I read the news, I often feel powerless. What can any of us do to prevent genocide, to dismantle structural inequalities, or to stop the other horrors we hear about in the news? The massive scale of the problems in the world can feel overwhelming, but we shouldn’t let it be paralyzing. My own involvement in activism changed dramatically in high school, when a human rights activist inspired me to hope.
In a recent interview, Facing History alumna Amal Altareb spoke about the impact of Facing History on her development as a Yemeni-American student activist and aspiring policymaker.
Altareb shared that she was born in California and lived there for a year before immigrating to her family’s native Yemen. She then lived there for 11 years until new professional opportunities and the political instability that followed the Arab Spring beckoned her family back to the U.S. For readers unfamiliar with this history, the Arab Spring refers to a wave political protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that swept the Middle East from 2010 to 2012.