Opio Toure R.I.P.

On reading the paper today, I learned of Opio Toure's death. It was a shock to me, as I wasn't aware of the seriousness of his health.

What a huge loss for Oklahoma, and for the struggle for justice here and everywhere.

ormer state Rep. Opio Toure, 53, died Monday in the intensive care unit of St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, where he was being treated for a lung condition.

A staunch opponent of the death penalty, Toure, a Democrat, was elected to the state House in 1994 and served until 2006, when he left office because of term limits.

He fought for justice for the wrongly convicted, and many other issues, taking righteous but often unpopular stands. He just understood progressive issues, and was accessible and open to listening to folks without money or connections, which is a rare quality in politicians, especially in this state.

He was one of the few Representatives who supported ballot access reform. I met him briefly a few years ago, while lobbying on the issue. Not only was he one of the few congresspeople even in the office on a non-session day, but he came out and talked to us and took the literature we were distributing personally. I took a picture, and if I can find it I will post here.

My fellow progressive Okie, James at JMBzine, has posted about his feelings about the sad news. Until recently, James lived in Opio's OKC district, and actually ran as an Independent/Green to replace him, in an effort to keep Toure's progressive presence in the legislature.

I looked on Wikipedia and found there was no page there for Toure, and I think there certainly needs to be. I'll be doing some research to put something together. If you have any info or resources that might be used, please let me know (or of course, start the page yourself; it's open, collaborative publishing.)

I got this from Batch at the Peace House:

There will be a memorial service for Opio Toure,
Friday evening, at 7 pm, at Fairview Baptist Church,
1700 NE 7th Street (few blocks east of MLK Ave.)

I'm hoping there will be another, public memorial vigil for a great man and generous public servant. I don't know what size that church is, but I know it's not big enough to hold all who would like to pay their respect.