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November 22, 2008

Wikipedia: Marion Barry

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Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr.
Marion Barry

2nd Mayor of Washington, D.C.
4th Mayor of Washington, D.C.
In office
January 2, 1979 – January 2, 1991
January 2, 1995 – January 2, 1999
Preceded by Walter Washington (1979)
Sharon Pratt Kelly (1995)
Succeeded by Sharon Pratt Kelly (1991)
Anthony A. Williams (1999)

Born March 6, 1936 (1936-03-06) (age 72)
Itta Bena, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Spouse Blantie Evans (married 1962)
Mary M. Treadwell (married 1972, divorced 1977)
Effi Slaughter (married 1978, divorced 1993)
Cora Masters (married 1994, divorced 2003)
Children Christopher Barry
Tamara Masters Wilds (stepdaughter)
Lalanya Masters Abner (stepdaughter)
Alma mater Fisk University
Profession Investment banking consultant; Ward 8 Representative, Council of the District of Columbia
Religion Baptist

Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. (born March 6, 1936), is an American politician who served as the second elected mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991, and again as the fourth mayor from 1995 to 1999. He was the target of a high-profile 1990 arrest on drug charges, which precluded him from seeking reelection that year. After he was convicted of the charges, Barry served six months in prison, but was elected to the D.C. city council in 1992 and ultimately returned to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999. Today, Barry again serves on the city council, representing Ward 8, which comprises Anacostia, Congress Heights, Washington Highlands and other neighborhoods.


Early life and activism

Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, but grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. Barry graduated from LeMoyne College (now LeMoyne-Owen College) in 1958. Barry also earned a Masters of Science in organic chemistry from Fisk University in 1960. Barry is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity founded by African Americans. He is also an Eagle Scout.

After graduating from Fisk, Barry joined the American civil rights movement, focusing on the elimination of the racial segregation of bus passengers. He was elected the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He abandoned his doctoral chemistry studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for his new duties. During his time leading SNCC, Barry heavily lobbied against racial segregation and discrimination.[citation needed] Marion Barry married Effi Slaughter, his third wife, just before his first mayoral victory in 1978. The couple had one son, Christopher Barry. The Barrys divorced in 1993, but she returned to Washington and supported him in his successful bid for a city council seat in 2004. Effi died on September 6, 2007 after an 18-month battle with leukemia.

Political career

In 1965, Barry moved to Washington, D.C. to open a local chapter of SNCC, where he was heavily involved in coordinating peaceful street demonstrations. Two years later, Barry cofounded (with Mary Treadwell, who would become his second wife) Pride Inc., a federally funded program to provide job training to unemployed black men.

Barry served on the first city school board to implement school board elections, in 1971, and served as Board president during his tenure. Upon establishment of Washington’s Home Rule in 1974, he was elected an at-large member of Washington’s first elected city council, and while serving as a council member became chair of the District of Columbia Committee on Finance and Revenue.

While serving on the D.C. city council, Barry was shot on March 9, 1977, by radical Hanafi Muslim terrorists when they overran the District Building. Barry was shot near his heart during the two-day 1977 Hanafi Muslim Siege in which hostages were held by the terrorists and which was finally defused by the FBI and Muslim ambassadors.

Having credentials as an activist, legislator, and hero in a hostage crisis, Barry followed in Washington’s mayoralty when its first elected mayor, Walter Washington, fell out of political favor in the 1978 election. Barry was elected mayor, defeating rivals Mayor Washington and council chairman Sterling Tucker by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio.[1] He was only the second person elected to the position. Barry was elected to three consecutive terms as mayor, holding the position for over a decade until his arrest on drug charges in 1990.

After his arrest and through his trial, Barry continued as mayor and even ran as an independent for an at-large seat on the council against 13-year incumbent Hilda Mason.[2] Mason, a former ally who had helped Barry recuperate after the 1977 shooting, took the challenge personally, saying, “I do feel very disappointed in my grandson Marion Barry.”[3] Mason was endorsed by a majority of the council members[4] and by Jesse Jackson, who was running for shadow senator.[5] Barry was sentenced to six months in prison shortly before the November election,[6] which he lost, despite doing well among the voters of Ward 8.[7] His wife and son moved out of the house later that month.[8]

After being released from prison, Barry was successful in his 1992 bid for the Ward 8 city council seat, running under the slogan “He May Not Be Perfect, But He’s Perfect for D.C.” He defeated the four-term incumbent, Wilhelmina Rolark, in the Democratic primary, winning 70 percent of the vote, saying he was “not interested in being mayor”,[9] and went on to win the general election easily.

Barry ran again for mayor in 1994 and won, returning to the office for his fourth term. In 1995, soon after his election, Barry was successfully treated for prostate cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.[10]

From 1995 to 2001, the federal government instituted a financial control board that deprived Barry and his successor as mayor of power to allocate and manage funds for city projects. Barry did not run for a fifth term in office. He was succeeded by Anthony A. Williams, the city’s former Chief Financial Officer. After leaving office, Barry performed consulting work for an investment banking firm.

On March 6, 2002, Barry declared his intention to challenge at-large council member Phil Mendelson in the Democratic primary.[11] Within a month, he decided against running, after an incident in which U.S. Park Police found traces of marijuana and cocaine in his car.[12]

On June 12, 2004 Barry announced that he was running in the Democratic primary for the Ward 8 council seat, a position he held before becoming mayor. Barry received 58% of the vote, defeating the incumbent council member, Sandy Allen, on September 14, 2004.[13] Barry received 95% of the vote in the general election, giving him a victory in the race to represent Ward 8 in the Council.[14]

During the 2006 mayoral election, Barry endorsed Adrian Fenty despite Linda Cropp hiring many members of Barry’s former political machine. Recently, however, Barry has publicly clashed with Fenty over DC United’s proposed soccer stadium in Barry’s Ward 8. Barry is the stadium’s most outspoken supporter on the council, whereas Fenty has attempted to distance himself from his initial support for the project.[15]

In July 2007, Marion Barry was chosen as one of fifty wax statues to debut in the Washington D.C. franchise of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Barry was chosen by a majority of Washington residents and tourists from Tussauds’ “Top 10 Wish List,” in a contest that pitted him against Cal Ripken, Al Gore, Denzel Washington, Carl Bernstein, Halle Berry, Martin Sheen, Marilyn Monroe, Nancy Reagan and Oprah Winfrey.[16]

Barry ran for reelection in 2008 and easily held off all five challengers in the Democratic primary: Ahmad Braxton-Jones, Howard Brown, Chanda McMahan, Sandra Seegars, and Charles Wilson.[17][18] No Republican or Statehood Green candidates filed to run in the Ward 8 council race.

Legal problems

1990 trial

Barry captured on a surveillance camera smoking crack cocaine during a sting operation by the FBI and D.C. Police.

On January 18, 1990, Barry was arrested with a former girlfriend, Hazel “Rasheeda” Moore, in a sting operation at the Vista Hotel by the FBI and D.C. Police for crack cocaine use and possession. The incident – played over and over on television – showing an enraged Barry excoriating FBI informant Rasheeda Moore:

Goddamn setup . . . I’ll be goddamn. Bitch set me up.[19]

Barry was charged with three felony counts of perjury, 10 counts of misdemeanor drug possession, and one misdemeanor count of conspiracy to possess cocaine; however, in October 1990, he was convicted on only one charge: a single previous misdemeanor count of possessing cocaine which occurred during November 1989. He was acquitted on one possession charge and a mistrial was declared on the 12 remaining charges.[citation needed]

As a result of his arrest and the ensuing trial, Barry decided not to seek reelection as mayor.[20] In the midst of his campaign for a city council seat, Barry was sentenced to a six-month federal prison term in October 1990.[21]

2005 guilty plea

On October 28, 2005, Barry pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges stemming from an IRS investigation. At the mandatory drug testing at that hearing, he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. On March 9, 2006, he was sentenced to three years probation for misdemeanor charges of failing to pay federal and local taxes, and continues to receive drug counseling.[22][23]

2006 traffic mishap

On September 10, 2006, Barry was stopped by Secret Service Uniformed Division police officers and was charged with driving under the influence, operating a vehicle while impaired, driving an unregistered vehicle, and misuse of temporary tags. He was acquitted of the drunk driving charges on June 13, 2007.[24]

Election history

  • November 5, 1974 – elected at-large council member[25] (creation of council, short term[26])
  • November 2, 1976 – reelected at-large council member[25]
  • November 7, 1978 – elected mayor[27]
  • November 2, 1982 – reelected mayor[27]
  • November 4, 1986 – reelected mayor[27] (did not run for reelection in 1990)
  • November 3, 1992 – elected Ward 8 council member[28]

1994 Mayor of the District of Columbia, Democratic Primary Election[29]

Marion Barry Jr. (D) 47%
John Ray (D) 37%
Sharon Pratt Kelly (D) 13%
Otis Holloman Troupe (D) 1%
Don Reeves (D) 0%
Osie Thorpe (D) 0%
Don Folden Sr. (D) 0%
Write-in 1%

1994 Mayor of the District of Columbia, General Election[30]

Marion Barry Jr. (D) 56%
Carol Schwartz (R) 42%
Curtis Pree (I) 0%
Jodean M. Marks (ST) 0%
Jesse Battle, Jr. (I) 0%
Faith (I) 0%
Aaron Ruby (I) 0%
Write-in 1%

2004 Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 8, Democratic Primary Election[13]

Marion Barry (D) 58%
Sandy (Sandra) Allen (D) 25%
William O. Lockridge (D) 7%
“S.S.” (Sandra Seegars) (D) 5%
Jacque D. Patterson (D) 4%
Joyce Scott (D) 1%
Frank Sewell (D) 0%
Write-in 0%

2004 Council of the District of Columbia, Ward 8, General Election[14]

Marion Barry (D) 95%
Cardell Shelton (R) 4%
Write-in 1%


  1. ^ Lynton, Stephen J.; Bowman, LaBarbara (1976-09-16). “Mayor, Sterling Tucker Deprecate Landslide Victory by Marion Barry”, The Washington Post, p. D1. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  2. ^ French, Mary Ann (1990-08-30). “Barry Files Petitions for Council Race; Mayor Plans to Appear on November Ballot as Independent”, The Washington Post, p. A10. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  3. ^ Sanchez, Rene (1990-10-22). “Council Candidate Barry Finds a Skeptical Electorate; Mayor Hopes Loyalists Stay in His Corner”, The Washington Post, p. A01. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  4. ^ Sanchez, Rene (1990-10-17). “Council Majority Endorses Mason to Block Barry’s Bid”, The Washington Post, p. A01. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  5. ^ Twomey, Steve (1990-10-26). “Barry Hits ‘Betrayal’ By Jackson”, The Washington Post, p. D01. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  6. ^ York, Michael; Thompson, Tracy (1990-10-27). “Barry Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison;Judge Says Mayor Gave Aid to Drug Culture'”, The Washington Post, p. A01. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  7. ^ Sanchez, Rene (1990-11-07). “D.C. Council; Wilson Elevated to Chairman; Cropp, Mason Beat Barry”, The Washington Post, p. A31. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  8. ^ Abramowitz, Michael; Trescott, Jacqueline (1990-11-29). “Effi Barry and Son Move Out of Home; Separation From Mayor Follows Her Hints of Shaky Marriage”, The Washington Post, p. A01. Retrieved on 2 August 2008. 
  9. ^ “Former Mayor’s Victory Worries Many in Capital”, The New York Times (1992-09-17). Retrieved on 30 July 2008. 
  10. ^ “Prostate Surgery for Mayor Barry”, Associated Press, The New York Times (1995-12-10). 
  11. ^ Timberg, Craig (2002-03-07). “Barry to Heed ‘Calling’ With Bid for D.C. Council; Comeback Campaign Takes Aim at Mendelson”, The Washington Post, p. B01. Retrieved on 7 August 2008. 
  12. ^ Timberg, Craig (2002-04-05). “Without Barry, the Plot Gets Thinner; Council Member Mendelson Loses a Key Foe, and Supporters Lose a Key Voice”, The Washington Post, p. B04. Retrieved on 7 August 2008. 
  13. ^ a b “Certified Results”. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (2004-09-14).
  14. ^ a b “Certified Summary Results” (PDF). District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (2004-11-18).
  15. ^ Nakamura, David (2007-09-13). “Fenty Goes Fishing Around Poplar Point”, The Washington Post, p. B01. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Darragh (2007-07-18). “Washington’s Mayor for Life To Be Truly Immortalized – in Wax”, The Washington Post, p. B01. 
  17. ^ District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (2008-07-26). “List of Candidates in Ballot Order for the September 9, 2008 Congressional and Council Primary Election”. Retrieved on 2008-08-01.
  18. ^ Washington Examiner: Barry wins Ward 8 Democratic Primary’
  19. ^ “Marion Haste; Repent at Leisure”. Urban Legends Reference Pages (1998-11-18).
  20. ^ Oreskes, Michael (1990-06-15). “After Barry, Uncertainty; Mayor’s Move Brings Painful Era to Close”, The New York Times. Retrieved on 7 July 2008. 
  21. ^ File, John (2006-03-10). “Probation For Marion Barry”, The New York Times. Retrieved on 12 February 2008. 
  22. ^ Wilgoren, Debbi; Woodlee, Yolanda (2006-03-10). “Barry Sentenced to Three Years of Probation”, The Washington Post, p. A01. 
  23. ^ Woodlee, Yolanda; Leonnig, Carol D (2006-01-11). “Barry Tested Positive for Cocaine Use In the Fall”, The Washington Post, p. A01. 
  24. ^ “Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Acquitted on Drunk Driving, Related Charges”, Associated Press, FOX News (2007-06-13). 
  25. ^ a b District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. “Historical Elected Officials: At-Large Member of the Council of the District of Columbia”. Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  26. ^ District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. “Historical Elected Officials: Length of Initial Terms Following First Home Rule Election”. Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  27. ^ a b c District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. “Historical Elected Officials: Mayor of the District of Columbia”. Retrieved on 2008-07-21.
  28. ^ District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics. “Historical Elected Officials: Ward 8 Member of the Council of the District of Columbia”. Retrieved on 2008-07-20.
  29. ^ “Final and Complete Election Results”. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (1994-09-23).
  30. ^ “Final and Complete Election Results”. District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics (1994-11-18).

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Marion Barry
Political offices
group of four
At-Large Member, Council of the District of Columbia
1975 – 1979
Succeeded by
John L. Ray
Preceded by
Walter Washington
Mayor of the District of Columbia
1979 – 1991
Succeeded by
Sharon Pratt Kelly
Preceded by
Wilhelmina Rolark
Ward 8 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
1993 – 1995
Succeeded by
Eydie D. Whittington
Preceded by
Sharon Pratt Kelly
Mayor of the District of Columbia
1995 – 1999
Succeeded by
Anthony A. Williams
Preceded by
Sandy Allen
Ward 8 Member, Council of the District of Columbia
2005 – present
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