Sunday, November 23, 2014

Marion Barry

Fellow readers, It is with sadness I report the passing of the 4 term DC mayor and current Ward 8 city council member Marion S. Barry, Jr. Now many of you who did not live the glory days of Marion Barry, before the crack arrest and before he was even elected to the DC government may not know that he was a civil rights activist. A grass roots man who worked in the community. Barry was not a native Washingtonian, hailing from Mississippi, but he was the face of the District for decades and an institution in DC politics. His many accomplishments that help found this city's many agencies and his care and dedication for seniors and low-incomes residents are a part of what made people vote him back into office again and again. He was an architect of DC home-rule, a law which allows DC a city government. Now though I personally believe he should have retired years ago to enjoy his senior years in life and allow someone younger to attempt to fill his massive shoes, I'm sure all that Barry knew was helping people and public service. Barry died doing what he loved, public service.

I had the pleasure of first meeting him when I was probably 10 or 11 years old on a Sunday afternoon. My mother, sister and I had left church and stopped to get dinner at a place on MLK Ave called the Imani Cafe. Barry was also having dinner there and I remember him coming over and shaking my hand and giving my little sister a kiss on the forehead. I met him again years later when I started working for the DC government. My grandmother, who passed a year ago this month and I would have intense debates about Barry when he forgot to pay a slew of parking tickets, taxes or the infamous phone conversations released with that younger woman. Of course, I lost those debates lol. I came to learn to not speak badly of him in her presence to say the least. He had his personal short comings - we all do. Living in the public eye makes you susceptible to more scrutiny than the average person. When someone who we look up to does so well and falls, we hurt so we take it out on them. Barry failed to many and never regained some trust, but he  didn't fall from glory. The photo posted is from this past June's Washington Post's article about Barry with my grandfather pictured on the left sitting down beside Barry. Barry's death is truly the end of an era.