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Tulsa Students Visit With Civil Rights Sit-In Participants

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

TPS High School students are learning this week about Oklahoma's role in the civil rights movement in a unique way.

They're watching a documentary called 'Children of the Civil Rights' and then speaking with some of the original sit-in participants. 

It's a story about the civil rights movement that was left out of their textbooks, Webster High School students and staff members said.

In 1958, a group of children sat in at segregated restaurants across Oklahoma City.

Their non-violent protests led to change.

Six years later when the Civil Rights Act was approved by Congress, almost every restaurant in Oklahoma City was desegregated. 

It's been 53 years and now students and staff members at Tulsa's Webster High School are learning about their story.

"I was thinking that our history was like Martin Luther King and Rosa parks but no one ever knew about this sit-down," one student said. 

"When I saw the film for the first time I wasn't aware of the story, I didn't know that Oklahoma had played such a pivotal role in the civil rights movement," said TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist. 

After the documentary, students were able to ask some of the original sit-in protestors questions. 

"I actually didn't expect nothing, I expected it to be boring and not educational but it was actually more powerful than what I thought it was gonna be," another student said. 

Gist said this is a history lesson her students need to learn.

"While we have come so far, we have so much more work still to do," Gist said. 

She said she hopes the students are learning more than just a history lesson. 

"I hope they are inspired. I hope they are excited. I hope they are proud of Oklahoma and the role that we played and ready to do something themselves to change in the world," she said. 

Tulsa Public Schools officials said they are expecting more than 1,500 students to take part in the lesson this week.

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