Thursday, April 28, 2011

Abolitionist Tim O’Brien, Presente!

By Gloria Rubac

Timothy O’Brien, a father, husband, son, brother, and comrade / friend of  so many died at home Tuesday morning with his family present.  Tim was an activist, scholar, and fighter for all workers and oppressed.  As much as he loved his family and friends, he hated war, racism, exploitation and executions.

Tim had cancer, the same thing that killed his father exactly two years ago, in April of 2009.  It had spread–to his brain and more–and he lost this battle.

Tim realized that the end was nearing when doctors said there was no more treatments for him.  But he lived life to the fullest each and every day he had left, finishing his manuscript for a book on Lightning Hopkins, spending special time with Yuna and Kyong Mi, attending one last conference on sweatshops, going to Austin to hear some good music only a few weeks before his confinement to bed, and having friends over for a last visit.

The Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement is forever indebted to Tim for so much energy, for setting up this web page, and for energizing our movement.  Tim attended a demonstration for Todd Willingham last winter before the Court of Inquiry that Judge Charlie Baird held that proved Todd was an innocent man executed by Gov. Rick Perry.

He attended the January hearing that Judge Kevin Fine held where attorneys presented compelling evidence that the use of the death penalty in Texas is unconstitutional.

Tim organized a protest of former Harris County D.A. Carol Vance at a book reading–which caused Murder by the Book and Vance to cancel, rather than face the truth.  Then when Vance appeared at a book festival in the Heights, he was confronted!

Tim was a man with a PhD like no other!  He was at home in academia and as well as in Freedman’s Town.  He could carry on with professors as well as with poor people with no initials behind their names, like his mentor Lenwood Johnson, who, like Tim, was educated AND a friend to the oppressed.  Tim’s PhD in African American History was put to good use for the community, despite the efforts of those in the ivory towers at UH to stop Tim.

Tim won many battles, inspired many young activists, and left a legacy for us all:  Dare to struggle, Dare to Win!

Members of  the Free Radicals will welcome those attending Tim’s funeral with New Orleans jazz funeral music.  The funeral will be Friday morning, April 29, at 11 AM at St. James Methodist Church in Freedman’s Town, 1217 Wilson St., 77019.

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