Understand that this man was loved by many native Washingtonians, myself included. He was also hated by some. It’s a strong word but it was freely used in the 80s and 90s. Marion Barry was a Robin Hood of sorts. He came to power in a powerful city and spread the wealth around. That angered the greedy who didn’t want fair play for DC residents, businesses and families.
A community organizer at heart, Marion Barry moved here from the South fresh from the front lines of the civil rights movement. He was an entrepreneur (Pride Incorporated), served as a school board member, council member, then Mayor for 16 years. Then councilmember, then Mayor again until the control board was created only to oust him and bring in Bowtie. He continued as councilmember for Ward 8 until his death.
During his original post as Mayor, he re-distributed wealth, created a black middle-class, gave every teenager a job, developed leadership programs for youth and told developers “no” if it didn’t benefit the city and ALL residents. He served as the gatekeeper angering the influential and powerful. Next, they exploited his personal problems and set up the FBI sting at the Vista…you know the rest.
What people outside of DC don’t seem to understand is the affection we have for this man. Why we forgave his transgressions and supported him. Yes he stumbled, but he did his job AND he served the people who elected him. Imagine that. It is such a rare occurrence that people don’t understand.
There is so much more that I could write. Instead I ask those who only know the negative to do some research. He was imperfect as we all are.
He was loved by many, hated by many but will be remembered by all.
-Sam Ford, News Ch. 8