Posted By: Jamie Stolp
A monument with Clara Luper's name on it sits on the east side of the I-235 off ramp for 23rd Street. She was a civil right activist and state congresswoman. She was influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King's nonviolent approach to justice and she became a significant leader during the late 1950's and 60's. She organized many sit-ins and boycotts that helped end segregation in the public schools. Because of her historical contribution OKC has honored her by calling a portion of 23rd Street the Clara Luper Corridor -- the stretch of road from I-35, past the state capitol area, to Broadway Avenue.
At the overpass and on the corner where the Clara Luper monument stands you will see many homeless and underprivileged people hanging out with milk cartons as seats and walking the sidewalks with signs that say something to the affect of "Hungry. Anything will help." You will see as much traffic as OKC has to offer and you will likely see a train parked on the bridge that stretches over 23rd Street. You will also will notice that almost everything is beautified in this small area. The homeless even pitch in to keep this area clean, which was a civic beautification project enacted to honor Luper -- the homeless pick up trash for the trade of not being removed the area.
Under the over pass, (catchy phrase that comes from the book "Under the Overpass") you will see restaurants and a gas station as you would want any interstate off ramp to have. You will also find one of largest liquor stores you will ever see, complete with a warehouse and what appears to be a distillery connected to it. This corner of OKC never lacks in activity...it is also a corner that represents light and darkness at one glance.
All this racially intensified history and busy activity is the passageway to the area of 23rd Street that we have been sent to start our church! May we be a church who contributes to the efforts to restore greater beauty in this area and may we help write the next chapter of what God wants to do with this city.
And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it.
Thanks to Dave Carter, who taught me about Clara Luper. Dave is a man who was a musician at a church plant years ago. A glass maker by trade and father of two men, a man who often sleeps under 23rd street overpass, and blessed us by praying over me, praying for my family and our church!