A true social justice warrior has passed. Godspeed, Tony Trupiano.

Yesterday morning I got a text from my friend Stephanie White that said, simply, “Sad news about Tony.” I hadn’t heard any news but I knew which “Tony” she meant. I know several Tonys but THE Tony is and has always been Tony Trupiano.

I went to Facebook and quickly saw what I was terrified that I would see: Tony Trupiano had passed away.

Tony had been sick for quite some time but I had learned recently that he had been able to resume eating solid food and seemed to be improving. So the news came as a shock and it has taken me 24 hours to be able to write about it.

I was first introduced to Tony in 2011 through our mutual friend Pam O'Neil Emery. Tony was doing a radio show called “First Shift with Tony Trupiano” that focused on progressive issues with an emphasis on labor. Christine Barry from the now-defunct website Blogging for Michigan and I alternated weeks doing a segment called “Blog Role”. My first “appearance” took place as I was en route to Netroots Nation in Minneapolis. I pulled over at a truck stop to do the 30-minute segment from my car.

Later, when Clear Channel closed down the station First Shift was on, Tony moved to an evening show, Night Shift, and our Blog Role segment continued. After some time, I was on his show weekly.

But Tony was so much more than First Shift or Late Shift. During his career he hosted no fewer than four nationally syndicated radio programs heard collectively on over 212 stations nationwide. He was so good at what he did that he filled in for Ed Schultz on his national radio show from time to time. During his career, Tony was also an owner of two restaurants, the author of two books, and a communications consultant and trainer. If you have been involved in progressive politics in Michigan in any way over the past decade, chances are good that your path has crossed with Tony Trupiano.

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Eclectablog and Tony Trupiano at an Ann Arbor education rally

Then, in 2014, Tony added another title to his long list of accomplishments: blogger. Tony wrote his first post as an Eclectablogger on September 9th of 2014 with a piece titled, “The Politics of Debating: Why Michigan’s political dysfunction continues to make YOU work harder“.

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Tony gets Eclectablogger training (photo by Anne C. Savage)

Tony published at total of 63 posts at Eclectablog. His last one came just after the election of Donald Trump and it was a bittersweet post. In it, Tony bid adieu to progressive activism. After decades of social justice battles, the gentle warrior had chosen to lay down his sword and shield.

In his final post, Tony lamented what he characterized his failure as an activist. And, while I generally agreed with him almost everything, on this he and I were decidedly of two completely different minds. Here’s what I wrote as an editor’s note at the end of his piece:

Everyone here at Eclectablog, and me in particular, are sad to hear that a true progressive warrior is laying down his sword and shield. We will sorely miss Tony’s contributions to the ongoing conversation in our state and in our country. I, for one, disagree with Tony’s characterization that he has not changed the world. The world without an activist like Tony Trupiano would look significantly different than it does today and for that we all owe him a deep debt of gratitude.

We wish Tony godspeed and will welcome him back with open arms and open hearts should he ever decide to return.

I love you, Tony. Namasté.

– Chris

Tony Trupiano DID change the world and he changed all of us who knew him. He made us better people, better activists, and, most importantly, more compassionate toward the people around us.

I am consumed with grief at the passing of this lion of progressive activism. The world is a bit colder without Tony Trupiano in it.