|Birth: ||Mar. 31, 1954|
|Death: ||Feb. 4, 2008|
Opio Toure, a former Oklahoma state representative, lawyer, activist, mentor and Langston University alumnus, succumbed to lung failure on Monday, Feb. 4, 2008.
Toure (who had changed his name from Ezellmo A. Stephens) was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma on March 31, 1954. He was the oldest of five siblings. Toure received a bachelor of arts degree from Langston University in 1976, a juris doctor from the University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1979, and a master of divinity from Phillips Theological Seminary in 2001.
Toure was greatly active in the Oklahoma legislature. He served with honor and distinction as a member of the Oklahoma Democratic Party from 1994 to 2006 and was also a former president of the Oklahoma City Association of Black Lawyers and the Northeast Youth Athletic Association. He also once served on the Board of Directors of Oklahoma City Northeast, Inc., and was once a county co-chair of the Oklahoma County Democratic Party. In addition, Toure held membership in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
One of Toure's many notable accomplishments include writing legislation in 2003 that gave people who are wrongfully convicted and imprisoned the right to apply for up to $175,000 in compensation, and in 2002, he was awarded the Angie Debo Award by the American Civil Liberties Union. During the 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 and/or below, and received wide bipartisan support. Later, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of Atkins v. the state of Virginia that executing the mentally disabled was in fact cruel and unusual punishment.
For more than 30 years, Toure served as a dedicated and proud Langston alumnus who advocated publicly for the advancement of the university. At the time of his death, Toure, who had taken a position as assistant professor at Langston University in January 2007, was very instrumental in developing the institution's Pre-Law Initiative, a program geared towards getting more students of African descent into law schools. He also served as associate pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Meridian, Oklahoma.
Toure's battle with an on-going lung condition ended in the intensive care unit of Oklahoma City's St. Anthony's Hospital. He had been hospitalized a week prior to his death and had been anxiously awaiting a lung transplant. Despite his ill-health, he refused to give up teaching at Langston and worked up until he was hospitalized.
Toure leaves behind all those who loved him, including his wife, Dr. Linda Ware Toure; two sons, Jelani Toure; and Jabari Toure.
He is also survived by two sisters, Arnita Colbert and Wendy Stephens; and three brothers, Mickael Stephens, David C. Stephens and Willie Hopkins; and his mother, Delores Carter Stephens.
In addition, Mr. Toure is survived by three grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, at the Fairview Baptist Church, 721 N. Rhode Island Ave.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, at St. Paul Baptist in Meridian.
Interment will be held at Union Hill Cemetery in Meridian, Oklahoma under the direction of Pollard Funeral Home.
You can view entries and sign The Oklahoman Obituary Guest Book of Opio Toure's here.
Union Hill Cemetery
Created by: In Memory
Record added: Feb 04, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 24403404