TOURE PAMELA D. BRIDGEWATER TOURE An activist lawyer and legal scholar specializing in issues related to reproduction, sexuality, identity, poverty and women's health, passed away on December 27, 2014, in Washington, DC, with her husband by her side. The cause was cancer. She was 45. Born July 22, 1969, to the late Laura Vertell (Clifton) and Richard Bridgewater, she spent her childhood in Jacksonville, Florida, and American Beach. She spent her adult life in Washington and the world. She is survived by her devoted husband, comrade, best friend and law partner, Kweku Atta Toure, Esq., of DC; her step-children, Azania, Diallo and Savanna Toure; and her father, Richard (Nancy) Bridgewater, of Jacksonville. She leaves behind also her brothers, James (Michelin) Ruth and Tommy (Felecia) Bridgewater of Jacksonville; their children, respectively, Brice, Keelee and Shaina Ruth, and Tommy Jr., Christopher, Sean and Justin Bridgewater, all of Jacksonville; and Tommy's children Madeline and Jerome Bridgewater of Germany. Within the Toure, Ford, Bridgewater, Clifton, Haynes and Middleton families, she is survived by a host of relatives across the country, notably aunts Pearline Osborne and Ethel Poenson, uncles Robert Bridgewater and Henry Clifton, cousins Ed Jones, beloved Angela (Philemon) Rheins and Angela's youngest children in particular, Brandon and Xavier. In addition to kin, Pamela is mourned by an elective family of loving friends. Among many, those include Dennis Williams of Brooklyn, NY, whom she cherished as a brother and kindred spirit, and Dorothy Sojourner ("Aunt Dot"), who had been a schoolteacher and mentor to Pamela's mother; when Pam moved to DC, Dorothy adopted Pam, and Pam adopted her. After graduating from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and working briefly as a commodities trader on the Chicago Stock Exchange, Pamela entered Florida State University Law School, where she received her Jurist Doctorate in 1995. Under the direction of professors Steven G. Gey and Nat S. Stern, she participated in the US Supreme Court case Judy Madsen et al. v. Women's Health Center Inc. Aware Woman Center for Choice, Inc., writing the Statement of the Case section that was argued for the respondents. The decision in the case affirmed in part the right of abortion clinics to defend themselves and their patients from direct obstruction and interference by Operation Rescue and their ilk. Pamela went on to obtain an LL.M from the University of Wisconsin Law School, and became a member of the Wisconsin Bar. While in Wisconsin, concentrating on property law, wills, trusts and estates, she developed a lifelong scholarly interest in the relationship between reproductive freedom and black emancipation, merging both histories in her future work by focusing on the experiences of black women. As a lawyer, Pamela provided legal defense of reproductive health care clinics, service providers and activists, and also provided pro bono legal service and consultation on matters such as estate planning for poor people and people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as legal services for peace activists and activists within the fair trade and globalization movements. As a professor, she inspired students at Northeastern University's School of Law and at American University's Washington College of Law, where she became a tenured law professor by the age of 35. Until illness made continuing at AU impossible, she taught property law, inheritance law, and reproduction and the law. Throughout her career she taught, guest lectured or participated in symposiums at numerous venues, including Harvard University, Boston College, the University of Richmond, West Virginia University and the University of South Carolina. Her involvement in the women's health movement and at the intersection of law, culture, race and reproduction led her to work with leading legal scholars, policymakers, activists and advocates from North America, Europe, Latin America and South Africa. She was an active member of the Society of America Law Teachers (SALT), and collaborated with Doug Colbert, professor of law at the University of Maryland, on the Curriculum Reform Social Justice Project. She routinely spoke on issues regarding reproductive rights on WTTG, Fox News in DC, and was on the board of directors of Kopkind, a summer seminar/retreat project for radical media makers and activists based in Guilford, Vermont. She also belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star. One important law review article, "Ain't I a Slave: Slavery, Reproductive Abuse, and Reparations," published in UCLA Women's Law Journal, sounds the themes at the heart of her book Breeding A Nation: Reproductive Slavery and the Pursuit of Freedom (unfinished when she died), which considers the history of slave breeding and posits the Thirteenth Amendment and subsequent case law as a constitutional basis for reproductive freedom. Pamela was also among a pioneering group defining a new area of legal theory, exploring the relationship between law, social justice and hip hop culture. In the final weeks before her death she was completing work on a critical reader titled Hip Hop and the Law: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement, which she co-edited with Andre Douglas Pond Cummings and Donald F. Tibbs, to be published later this year by the Carolina Academic Press. Pamela married Kweku Toure in 2006. Living in the Penn-Branch neighborhood of S.E. DC, the two worked side by side in the Penn-Branch Citizens Civic Association. They made their home a beautiful place of love, high spirits and community. A memorial service will be held at the Woman's National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 on Sunday February 1, 2015 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m.
Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 16, 2015.