The Oklahoma City Philharmonic will honor the memory of civil rights activist Clara Luper, shown here in a 1988 photo, with a tribute concert and a world premiere by Hannibal Lokumbe. Photo from The Oklahoman.

“One of my goals as music director for the Oklahoma City Philharmonic is to bring our community together,” writes Alexander Mickelthwate, music director of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic in Sunday’s (2/20) Oklahoman. “When I moved to Oklahoma four years ago to lead the OKCPHIL, I began doing research on the state’s history. One name that kept recurring was Clara Luper. So, I [had lunch] with Clara’s daughter, Marilyn. Joyce Jackson joined us … [she] was with Clara at her famous sit-in back in 1958. And singer Jabee Williams was there at the lunch, too…. I had goosebumps … because suddenly I was there, this little German boy, sitting next to those civil rights leaders …. When I heard May 2023 would have been Clara’s 100th birthday, I knew the OKCPHIL had to celebrate her life through a new work of music. Hannibal Lokumbe … was a natural fit to compose an original piece to honor Clara…. Our OKCPHIL tribute to Clara is set for May 13 … While that is still several months away … it’s important during Black History Month to recognize Clara and those … who paved the way for civil rights here in Oklahoma City.”