a film by Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer

still01DC’s 4-term Mayor Marion Barry’s footprint is everywhere in Washington, DC. U Street revival started with the Reeves Center. Marion Barry’s name is on the building. DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities started by Marion Barry. Senior services and senior housing for fixed incomes initiated by Marion Barry. The city’s first subway, Metro, dug in during the Barry years. Verizon Center. Guess who started that conversation? Conventions in Washington, DC? That came to life with a convention center. Barry. Barry identified talent. Tony Williams, who became the golden Mayor of DC, was a Barry appointee to handle the city’s budget (Williams took over when the control board was put in place). Tax incentives for first-time home owners in the district – I took advantage of that one as well as the summer jobs program for youth. The program placed us in jobs that set us on career tracks (not office day care set ups to keep us off the street).

But Barry will forever be defined by his fall. Even when I was visting London, months later I was asked to explain that hotel incident and Marion Barry. “He isn’t my cousin!” I wanted to say. We were members of the same Unitarian church for a time when his fellow SNCC member and friend Rev. David H. Eaton was minister.

Perhaps I should’ve quoted Shakespeare:

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones

Anthony, Act 3, scene ii of Julius Caesar

Marion Barry was Shakespearian with a 6th and even 7th Act. Like him or not, you can’t deny that for that former sleepy southern city called Washington Marion Barry was for DC, in the words of my blogging brother E. Ethelbert Miller, “our Spring. A man who tried to bring a little warmth to so many left out in the cold.”

Mayor Marion Barry, Jr., civil rights veteran, and councilmember for Ward 8, died today in Washington, DC at the age of 78.