OKLAHOMA CITY (September 28, 2010) — Opio Toure, a former Oklahoma state representative, lawyer, activist, and humanitarian will be commemorated with the portion of Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City running between Northeast 23rd Street and Interstate 40 being named in his honor. State Rep. Mike Shelton announced today that the dedication and unveiling of the “State Representative Opio Toure Memorial Highway” will take place on October 15.
“Opio Toure was a compassionate Christian man who worked tirelessly on behalf of those who have no voice, and Oklahoma is a better place because of him,” said Shelton , D-Oklahoma City . “He was a dear friend and fellow lawmaker, and I was humbled and inspired by his life and legacy.”
Toure, a Democrat from Oklahoma City , served in the Legislature from 1994-2006. During this time, he was appointed to leadership roles including serving as the Democratic Floor Leader. One of Toure’s many notable accomplishments included writing legislation that gave people who are wrongfully convicted and imprisoned the right to apply for compensation, and in 2002, he was awarded the Angie Debo Award by the American Civil Liberties Union.
In that same year, Toure, who was a die-hard opponent of the death penalty, shepherded House Bill 2635 through the Legislature, which was a measure that sought to stop the execution of mentally disabled offenders with intelligence quotients of 70 or below. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court determined in the case of Atkins v. the state of Virginia that executing the mentally disabled was in fact cruel and unusual punishment.
A Langston alumnus, he accepted the position of assistant professor at Langston University in 2007, where he was instrumental in developing the institution's Pre-Law Initiative, a program geared towards growing the number of students of African descent into law schools. He taught at Langston University until his death on February 4, 2008.
Everyone is encouraged and welcomed to attend the dedication and unveiling ceremony on October 15th at 2:30 p.m. at the Langston University OKC Campus at 4205 N. Lincoln Boulevard .
“Opio Toure’s loss is still felt in our community, and this dedication is a well-deserved and fitting tribute to a man who improved and inspired the lives of so many in our state,” said Shelton .