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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Monday, February 04, 2008

An Elegy for Former Oklahoma State Rep. Opio Toure

Opio Toure

Opio Toure, champion of social justice, has died, age 53. Though a small man physically and always s gentle soul, Toure was a giant and a warrior for the rights of the dispossessed in Oklahoma. He first drew attention when he and a group of fellow Langston University students led a sit-in at the governor's office in the 70's. The reason for their non-violent action was to head off an attempt to close Langston. Some members of the legislature had proposed turning the historically black college into a prison!

While in the legislature, opposed the "Right to Scab" state constitutional amendment. He fought for the rights of Oklahoma's workers to receive notice before being terminated from their jobs. Currently, workers in our state can be fired without notice or reason given. He was the driving force behind a bill that prevented the execution of the severly mentally handicapped. He repeatedly called for a moritorim on the use of the death penalty in Oklahoma.

After his retirement in 2006, Opio worked for Langston University developing a program to increase minority entrollment in law schools. He also served as professor of pre-law at his Alma Mater.

Opio's wife, Linda Toure, is an adminstrator in the Oklahoma City School District where she serves as academic director for the Frederick Douglass Learning Community.

Opio was a good man with a heart that yearned for justice. He will be greatly missed.

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