On the evening of Saturday, July 14, I received devastating news. Representative Claudia Griffith, who served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for House District 45, passed away that afternoon of an apparent heart attack. Since being elected on Nov. 4, 2014 after claiming a narrow victory over her opponent, Representative Griffith served the city of Norman with honor and compassion, and her loss is a profound one for the entire state of Oklahoma.

As an advocate for a minority community in our state, I am proud to say Claudia Griffith was my state representative. Once, at a town hall meeting in Norman, she took the time to explain the legislative process to her constituents. She wanted us to know that yes, it is slow, and yes, it is frustrating, but “it works” she said with confidence. Her faith in the process was contagious, and she motivated her constituency to rally around what is good and to stand against what is not”

Rep. Griffith was a known ally to many minority groups, including Oklahoma’s Muslim community. She was always willing to show her support for the rights of Oklahoma Muslims in both public and private. Having been in attendance at past Oklahoma Muslim Day’s at the Capitol, she was well aware of the challenges the community faces, and she also knew that she had the privilege to be a voice for the voiceless.

It is with that in mind that this year, she was one of the first Oklahoma State Legislators to wish our Muslim community a blessed Eid, recognizing the Muslim holiday and taking a stand for religious minorities. She was also one of the first to receive backlash for her stance. I reached out to her in appreciation, letting her know that her act of courage and kindness did not go unnoticed. She replied “Those are votes I’m not worried about losing.”

This is what leadership is made of. To the end she was motivated not by popularity or advancing her career, but by her desire to serve Oklahoma. To her constituency, she was always an ally, always courageous, and always a friend.

The Muslim community and CAIR Oklahoma extend our sincere condolences and deepest appreciation to Representative Claudia Griffith and her family for their many sacrifices for the people of our state.