FOI Oklahoma Inc. seeks nominees for the Justice Marian Opala First Amendment Award

FOI Oklahoma Inc. is seeking nominees through Oct. 16 for the Justice Marian Opala First Amendment Award.

The award recognizes an Oklahoman who has promoted education about or protection of the individual rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, which include freedom of religion, speech, press, peaceful assembly, and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Previous recipients include civil rights leader Clara Luper and state Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Nominations for the award should include the nominee's name, address, brief biographical information and what the person has done to promote education about or protection of the individual rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Nominations may be sent to FOI Oklahoma Inc., P.O. Box 2408, Edmond, OK 73083, or e-mailed to

This year’s recipient will be honored Oct. 29 during the 11th annual First Amendment Congress Professional Day session at The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.

The award was initiated in 2002 to honor
Justice Marian Opala, a Polish immigrant who exemplifies a belief in the rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. Opala was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 1978 and served as chief justice in 1991-92.

Opala, born in 1921, had just enrolled in law school when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. He enlisted in the Polish Army and later fought as a member of the Polish Resistance Movement. He was captured in 1944 and held in a concentration camp in Bavaria. When the camp was liberated in 1945, Opala was befriended by a 45th Infantry Division
captain from Oklahoma City. Opala settled in Oklahoma City in 1947 and became a U.S. citizen in 1953.

Opala is well-known as a strong advocate of First Amendment rights. He attributes that commitment to his experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland.

FOI Oklahoma is a statewide organization founded in 1990 to educate the public and officials about rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and to actively support openness in government.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.