Marion Barry Jr.: Four-Time Washington D.C Mayor Who Had A Come-Back After Conviction

by Duke Magazine

It is apparently inspirational and interesting to terrace the life of Marion Barry Jr., the four-time mayor of Washington D.C. Here was a Mississippi sharecropper’s son who achieved his academic pursuit before having a foray into the political scene. Barry bagged his first degree in 1958 from Le Moyse College, and a subsequent master’s degree in chemistry from Fisk University. In the light of his Civil Rights Movement, the course got him swayed from the completion of his doctorate degree.

By 1965, Barry had moved to Washington to launch a local chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Till the early 1970s, the city had no local government and was ruled by a Congressional subcommittee, which was often chaired by a white southerner.

Barry observed the disenchantment of D.C.’s younger black population toward older, established white people and quickly capitalized on it.

In January 1979, Barry took the oath of office for the first time as mayor of the District of Columbia, having defeated the city’s first elected mayor, incumbent Walter E. Washington. Curiously, he performed well among white voters west of Rock Creek Park and on Capitol Hill. He was sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve on the high court.

Barry in his life served three terms as mayor of the District of Columbia, survived a drug arrest and jail sentence, and crucially came back to successfully run a fourth term as mayor of Washington, D.C. 

On the account of an escapade, Barry was caught on tape smoking crack with a model and prostitute, Rahsheeda Moore, whom he had a history with in an FBI and DC police sting operation,but Barry maintained his stance of being set up.

He was arrested and charged with drug possession and the use of crack at the Vista International Hotel in downtown Washington. The woman had agreed to set up Barry in exchange for a reduced sentence in an earlier drug conviction.

Barry, after some days, left town for a seven-week rehabilitation program in Florida and later in South Carolina.

In September 1991, the judge sentenced him to six months in prison and a year on probation plus a fine of $5,000. After serving his sentence, Barry returned to D.C. politics with claims he had overcome his “personal adversities.” He was elected to the city council and once again won the mayoral election in 1994 for an unprecedented fourth term.

“In 1997, Barry, often accused of corruption, was stripped of much of his power by Congress, which passed legislation to end ‘home rule’ in the District,” according to History.

He retired from politics in 1999, but came back vying for the Ward 8 City Council seat which he won outrightly in 2004. 

During his years as mayor, he built the city’s sports arena then known as MCI Center and brought back to life a section of downtown that had been abandoned after the 1968 riots. 

Barry also introduced a program that offered inner-city kids summer employment in federal and city government departments that were shut off to black kids. “Those were white folks’ positions and Marion Barry made it so black folks could get some of those government jobs,” Robert North stated.

Born on March 6, 1936, in the rural hamlet of Itta Bena, young Barry had to grow quickly and help his mum survive by selling newspapers on street corners, waiting tables, bagging groceries and inspecting soda bottles.

He married Blantie Evans, his first wife in 1962. While engaged in civil rights work, he organized a group called Pride Inc., which helped over 1,000 inner-city youths gain jobs. He passed away at age 78 from hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

Related Posts

1 comment

Olojo Festival: The Hallmark of Yoruba Cultural Value | Duke International Magazine September 18, 2021 - 4:30 am

[…] Marion Barry Jr.: Four-Time Washington D.C Mayor Who Had A Come-Back After Conviction […]


Leave a Comment

WeCreativez WhatsApp Support
Our support team is here to answer your questions. Ask us anything!
? Hi, how can I help?