‘Social justice champion’ Tou Ger Xiong laid to rest Saturday
The life of 50-year-old Tou Ger Xiong, a St. Paul comedian and social justice activist who was killed last month while on vacation in Colombia, was remembered on Saturday.
Tou Ger was laid to rest as a hero, drawing hundreds he touched, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, D-MN, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, numerous state lawmakers, and Gov. Tim Walz.
Gov. Walz declared the day of the memorial be named for the man known for leadership, bravery, and a wicked sense of humor. He proclaimed Jan. 27, 2024 as “Tou Ger Xiong Day.”
“To Minnesotans, Tou Ger was a treasure,” Walz said. “Tou Ger embodied what we would like to think we are.”
The St. Paul funeral home was overflowing, both with people and memories.
“Tou Ger’s determination to do more, to push himself more, to reach for more started from those early chubby toddler days,” shared his sister-in-law, Pangjua Xiong.
As Pangjua told it, Tou Ger went from determined kid to high school valedictorian to rapper, comedian and social justice activist helping to elect the first Hmong American legislator in the country.
“Many, many, many more have followed after him,” Ellison remarked.
In his 50 years, Tou Ger broke down barriers and built bridges, instilling confidence in a generation of Hmong Americans, said his brother, Eh Xiong.
“With comedy and silliness, just making people laugh,” Eh explained. “If you can laugh at certain things, you can become friends. And by doing that, you know, people open up and say, ‘Hey, deep down inside, we are all the same after all.'”
In Hmong culture, a funeral usually lasts up to three days to signify the long and good life of the person who died. However, the family is requesting privacy after Saturday’s memorial and visitation.
Prosecutors in Colombia announced last week that three people were arrested and charged in Xiong’s death.
His family members have created an endowment fund they hope will continue to advance social justice in Minnesota.