Story behind the story: Anna Bauman
There are many prominent names within civil rights history. Some however, often go unnoticed. One such person is Clara Luper. Anna Bauman, a reporter at the OU Daily, wrote a story about Luper and her legacy.
The story opens with a reenactment of the event Luper is known for-a sit-in to fight for equal rights. The reenactment is done in a class for the African and African American studies department.
J.D. Baker, who knew Luper, is one of the students who helped reenact the event. While this was just a reenactment, the stories told are still relevant today.
At the beginning of this semester, Bauman pitched this idea while brainstorming with other OU Daily members about longer pieces. The story came about when the African and African American studies department was elevated to department and then named after Luper this past March.
Before she began the project, Bauman had not heard of Luper. During an interview for the three-part story about influential black women of OU, Dean Stanley Evans of the OU law school revealed he was a part of the sit-in Luper organized.
The subject of that interview was then changed to Luper. Evans told her what it was like to participate in that sit-in, which added another voice to the story.
The project, which took approximately 3 months of switching between daily journalism and interviewing for the Luper story, took a lot of interviewing and research to make. Bauman read the autobiography of Luper to help prepare.
“Their stories are just really interesting and they interested me for sure so I was doing the research and looking into them.” Bauman said.
The idea of having a 3-part story about influential women at OU began after Bauman read a special called “Overlooked” by the New York Times where they wrote obituaries of influential people. This was a special because, beforehand, the only people who got an obituary written by the Times were white men.
Just as the Times aimed to recognize a more diverse group of people, so does the Daily. Bauman said the “Overlooked” series inspired her to reach out to people Luper knew and share her story.
“It was really inspiring to read about and see how strong and courageous and brave that these women were.” Bauman said.
The challenges she faced while writing this story is that she was unable to get in contact with Luper’s daughter. However, she was able to get other interviews with other people that knew Luper.
While the story was not as timely as it could have been, Bauman said that she wanted to make sure she got the project done before she graduated.
“These people can be recognized at any time of the year.” Bauman said.
Bauman has been working at the Daily for three years since she was a sophomore. She was originally an engineering major, but decided to switch to English because of her enjoyment of writing and other liberal arts.
In high school, Bauman was on a part of the school paper. She also did internships at the Oklahoman and Omaha World-Herald.
This coming spring, she said she is participating in the Gaylord in D.C. program to report on the Oklahoma legislature. She said she is not sure what she will do after college.
“It’s a scary thought, but it will be okay.” Bauman said.
The advice Bauman said she would give to future aspiring journalists is that they need to always be curious about the world around them. She also said that reading the news and interacting with ideas they had never considered before would help as well.
The biggest piece of advice she gave was to get hands-on experience. Her advice for OU students in particular is to work at a place like the Daily, due to the hands-on nature of the journalism profession.
To make a great story, Bauman said that the stories need to engage not only the audience, but the writer as well. She said that if they are passionate about the subject, better stories will be told.