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Former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies At Age 78


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  • Former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Dies At Age 78


    Marion Barry, the longtime mayor of the District of Columbia who staged a remarkable political comeback after a 1990 FBI sting videotaped him smoking crack cocaine, died early Sunday. He was 78.

    The D.C. City Council issued a statement confirming Barry's death. Barry's family said the former mayor died shortly after midnight Sunday at the United Medical Center, after having been released from Howard University Hospital the previous day. No cause of death was immediately specified, but spokeswoman LaToya Foster said Barry collapsed outside his home. Barry had battled kidney problems stemming from diabetes and high blood pressure and underwent a kidney transplant in February 2009.

    Barry had served as a member of the city council since 2005, winning re-election twice. He was often still referred to in his Ward 8 constituency as "Mayor Barry" despite not having held the office since 1999.

    "Marion was not just a colleague but also was a friend with whom I shared many fond moments about governing the city," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement. "He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him."

    Speaking at a 4 a.m. press conference at United Medical Center, the city's mayor-elect Muriel Bowser called Barry an "inspiration to so many people and a fighter for people."

    "Mr. Barry, I can say this, lived up until the minute the way he wanted to live," said Bowser, who had served with Barry on the D.C. Council.

    Barry was first elected mayor in 1978 after building a political career as an official of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and a local activist in Washington. Re-elected in 1982 and 1986, he was dubbed "Mayor For Life."

    "I want to take the boards off of houses and put people in them," he said shortly after being sworn in in 1979. "I want to provide minimal care for all people, regardless of their financial situation. And I want to live out (Dr. Martin Luther) King's legacy of peace, brotherhood and survival."

    But he gained international notoriety when he was filmed smoking crack in a downtown Washington hotel room with a female friend. He was convicted of a single count of drug possession -- jurors had deadlocked on most counts -- and sentenced to six months in prison.

    Despite the embarrassment, Barry's political career was far from over. In 1992, he made it back to city government, winning a council seat representing the poorest of the city's eight wards. That victory helped propel him to a fourth, and final, term as mayor in 1994.

    "Marion Barry changed America with his unmitigated gall to stand up in the ashes of where he had fallen and come back to win," poet Maya Angelou said in 1999.

    But his 1994 vote was divided sharply along racial lines and his political revival drew criticism from many. Congress moved to strip Barry of much of his mayoral authority in 1995 as the city flirted with bankruptcy.

    Congress installed a financial control board, and Barry decided not to seek a fifth term. He held authority over little more than the city's parks, libraries and community access cable TV station in his last years as mayor.

    "Marion Barry sadly turned the capital city into a national joke," then-Sen. Lauch Faircloth, R-N.C., said in May 1998.

    In his later years on the council, Barry played the role of elder statesman, but he sometimes exasperated his colleagues with his wavering attention at meetings and frequent, rambling references to his tenure as mayor.

    He also battled legal problems, including tax as well as drug charges. Even as he was fighting kidney disease in early 2009, prosecutors were seeking to revoke probation in a tax case, saying he had not kept a promise to file annual returns. The council also censured him twice for ethical violations.

    Barry was born March 6, 1936, to Marion and Mattie Barry, in the small Mississippi delta town of Itta Bena, and was raised in Memphis, Tenn., after the death of his father, a sharecropper.

    While an undergraduate at LeMoyne College (now LeMoyne-Owen College), Barry picked up the nickname "Shep" in reference to Soviet propagandist Dmitri Shepilov for his ardent support of the civil rights movement. Barry began using Shepilov as his middle name.

    Barry did graduate work in chemistry at Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., earning a master's degree. He left school short of a doctorate to work in the civil rights movement.

    His political rise began in 1960, when he became the first national chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which sent young people into the South to register black voters and became known as one of the most militant civil rights groups of that era.

    Barry's work with the committee brought him to Washington, where he became immersed in local issues, joining boycotts of the bus system and leading rallies in support of the city's fledgling home rule efforts.

    In 1970, The Washington Post wrote: "Four years ago widely considered a young Black Power Militant with almost no constituency, (Barry) has become a man who is listened to -- if not fully accepted -- on all sides."

    Barry's activism propelled him into local politics, first as a member of the Board of Education and then in 1974 as a member of the first elected city council organized under home rule legislation.

    He suffered his first personal crisis in 1977 when he was wounded by a shotgun blast in the Hanafi Muslim takeover of D.C.'s city hall. A young reporter was killed. The shooting was credited with strengthening him politically, and his first mayoral run was buoyed by an early endorsement from The Washington Post.

    In 1978, he defeated incumbent Mayor Walter Washington -- the city's first home rule mayor -- in the Democratic primary and went on to easily win the general election.

    The early years of Barry's long tenure were marked by improvement in many city services and a dramatic expansion of the government payroll, creating a thriving black middle class in the nation's capital. Barry established a summer jobs program that gave many young people their first work experience and earned him political capital.

    During much of the period between 1984 and 1990, Barry was under federal investigation for his ties to drug suspects. He consistently denied using drugs, but his late-night partying began to take a toll on his job performance.

    On Jan. 19, 1990, FBI agents videotaped him buying and smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room not far from the White House. The tape, which included his subsequent arrest, was widely distributed to the media and made Barry infamous worldwide.

    A few months after his arrest, long-time civil rights advocate and educator Roger Wilkins, a past supporter, wrote in The Post: "Marion Barry used the elders and lied to the young. He has manipulated thousands of others with his cynical use of charges of racism to defend his malodorous personal failures."

    Sharon Pratt Dixon was elected mayor later in 1990 and served one term before Barry retook city hall in the 1994 election. Asked if he had anything to say to his opponents, Barry said: "Get over it."

    After retreating from mayoral politics in the late 1990s, Barry worked as a municipal bond consultant.

    Several times since his 1990 arrest, Barry had sought treatment or counseling for problems with prescription medications or other substances. In 2002, he sought an at-large seat on the D.C. Council but abandoned his bid amid allegations of renewed illegal drug use.

    In 2006, Barry was given three years of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004. As part of a plea bargain, he agreed to file future federal and local tax returns annually, a promise prosecutors later said he had failed to keep.

    In 2010, he was censured by the council and stripped of his committee assignments for steering a government contract to a former girlfriend. The council levied a similar punishment in 2013 after he admitted accepting cash gifts from city contractors.

    Barry suffered numerous health problems over the years. In addition to kidney failure, he survived prostate cancer, undergoing surgery in 1995 and a follow-up procedure in 2000. In late 2011, he underwent minor surgery on his urinary tract, and in early 2014, he spent several weeks in hospitals and a rehabilitation center while battling infections and related complications.

    Barry was married four times and is survived by one son, Marion Christopher Barry.


    These are actual quotes taken from Mayor Marion Barry, of Washington, D.C.

    "The contagious people of Washington have stood firm against diversity during this long period of increment weather." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "I promise you a police car on every sidewalk." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very very low crime rate." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "First, it was not a strip bar, it was an erotic club. And second, what can I say? I'm a night owl." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "Bitch set me up." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "I am clearly more popular than Reagan. I am in my third term. Where's Reagan? Gone after two! Defeated by George Bush and Michael Dukakis no less." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "The laws in this city are clearly racist. All laws are racist. The law of gravity is racist." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "I am making this trip to Africa because Washington is an international city, just like Tokyo, Nigeria or Israel. As mayor, I am an international symbol. Can you deny that to Africa?" -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "People have criticized me because my security detail is larger than the president's. But you must ask yourself: are there more people who want to kill me than who want to kill the president? I can assure you there are." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "The brave men who died in Vietnam, more than 100% of which were black, were the ultimate sacrifice." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "I read a funny story about how the Republicans freed the slaves. The Republicans are the ones who created slavery by law in the 1600's. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and he was not a Republican." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "What right does Congress have to go around making laws just because they deem it necessary?" -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "People blame me because these water mains break, but I ask you, if the water mains didn't break, would it be my responsibility to fix them then? WOULD IT!?!" -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

    "I am a great mayor; I am an upstanding Christian man; I am an intelligent man; I am a deeply educated man; I am a humble man." -- M. Barry, Mayor of Washington, DC

  • #2
    Not the first criminal elected to office----------------and not the last
    Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

    My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS


    • #3
      He made it to 78?

      Wow. Most of the crackheads I've seen look like they're going to die within the next month.


      • #4
        Well, we have one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave,and another one at the Justice(?) Dept. The CIC (Communist in Chief) is an acknowledged doper, and a reputed neighborhood pharmacuetical rep. He and his current Attorney General are also pretty good at leading lynch mobs.

        Yeah Marion is in good company.


        • #5
          Edit to read, "Criminal" at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.


          • #6
            He will probably be re-elected anyway.
            September 11, 2001 - All gave some, some gave all. Never forget -- Never forgive.......... RIP Brothers and Sisters.


            • #7
              "I don't go on "I'maworthlesscumdumpster.com" and post negative **** about cum dumpsters."
              The Tick

              "Are you referring to the secret headquarters of a fictional crime fighter or penal complex slang for a-$$hole, anus or rectum?"

              "and we all know you are a poser and a p*ssy.... "
              Bearcat357 to Dinner Portion/buck8/long relief


              • #8
                $10 says his vote is counted for Hillary in 2016....
                Originally posted by RSGSRT
                We've reached a point where natural selection doesn't have a chance in hell of keeping up with the procreation of imbeciles.
                Why is it acceptable for you to be an idiot, but not acceptable for me to point it out?


                • #9
                  Not the least bit heart broken. As someone who has worked in or near DC, I've disliked that man for a very long time. The fact he kept rising from the dead was always an embarrassment.


                  • #10
                    They can cremate him in a giant crack pipe.
                    Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

                    I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ateamer View Post
                      They can cremate him in a giant crack pipe.
                      Well put that in your pipe and smoke it!!!
                      My comments are my personal opinion and are based on my life experiences and training. They are not to be construed as legal advice in any form as I am not an attorney. Should you act on any of the information I provide in my comments, you do so at your own risk!!


                      • #12
                        I read about his demise on TMZ.com and the comments were BRUTAL!!! A significant number of commenters were worshiping him!!!
                        My comments are my personal opinion and are based on my life experiences and training. They are not to be construed as legal advice in any form as I am not an attorney. Should you act on any of the information I provide in my comments, you do so at your own risk!!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
                          Well, we have one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave,and another one at the Justice(?) Dept. The CIC (Communist in Chief) is an acknowledged doper, and a reputed neighborhood pharmacuetical rep. He and his current Attorney General are also pretty good at leading lynch mobs.

                          Yeah Marion is in good company.
                          Yeah and comedian Steve Harvey (who claims to be a Christian) was accosting Bill O'Reilly for "not being forgiving enough" of Barry's "indiscretions" and that one day O'Reilly would need forgiveness himself and would not get it because of how he reacted to Barry.

                          Harvey is a card-carrying Democrat. Not saying that it's impossible for Christians to be Democrats, but........
                          It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.


                          • #14
                            Well Guys, we all know the Obama, Holder motto is 'Vote early, vote often" . Marion believed in that too. We need to keep in mind that corruption doesn't begin at the Mexican Border.


                            • #15
                              I wonder if some gal was puffing on his cigar when he departed.
                              I’ll die with blue in my veins.


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