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article imageThe late Mayor of Washington, DC, Marion Barry, dies at 78

By Amanda Byas     Nov 23, 2014 in Politics
Former DC mayor, Marion Barry, a debatable and tireless supporter of the nation’s capital who created jobs for generations of black families, Marion Barry was the ultimate D.C. politician. Barry died on Sunday, November 23, 2014 at the age of 78.
The former four-term mayor will no longer be remembered for the night in 1990 when he was caught lighting up a crack pipe in an FBI sting operation. Instantly, the mayor of the capital was shown as a drug user.
Barry passed away Sunday at the age of 78. His family stated that he died at the United Medical Center, after being released from Howard University Hospital the day prior. No cause of death was given at this time. However, LaToya Foster, Barry’s spokeswoman said he collapsed outside of his home.
Barry first made a name for himself in the South as a prominent leader in the civil rights movement and brought powerful support to D.C. to free the city to allow them to manage its own city affairs. That story was remembered Sunday at the White House right after receiving the news of Barry’s death.
President Obama stated:
"Marion was born a sharecropper's son, came of age during the Civil Rights movement, and became a fixture in D.C. politics for decades. During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity and begin to make real the promise of home rule."
March 6, 1936, Marion Barry was born to Marion and Mattie Barry, of the Mississippi delta and was raised in Memphis, Tennessee, after the death of his father, Marion.
His work in the civil rights movement was what brought him to Washington D.C. In 1974, he was elected to city council. Four years later, Barry defeated Mary Walter Washington in the Democratic primary and went on to win the general election.
His early years in office were marked by improvement in many city services, and expansion of the government payroll, which lead to the creation of a flourishing black middle class within the city. He also created summer job programs that gave many of the city’s youth with their first work experience.
The city’s drug problem slowly decreased between the 1980s and 1990s. However, Barry was batting with his own personal problems, which lead him to his arrest on January 19, 1990. The federal authority was investigating him for years prior for his apparent ties to drug suspects.
Barry served a six-month term in a federal prison. It was not the end of his political career, but it did change how he was looked at. To some people, he was an embarrassment. While to mainly lower-income blacks, he was still a hero, and unfairly persecuted for his own personal mistakes.
In 1992, Barry returned to D.C., where he represented the city’s eight wards, the poorest of the city. Two years later, he won his last term as mayor.
In 1995, the city on the verge of bankruptcy, unaccountable government, Congress stripped Barry of his power.
When we thought Barry was done with politics, he came back in 2004. In 2004, he went back to the D.C. Council, representing Ward 8. He was elected again in 2008 and 2012.
Over the years, Barry suffered from a variety of health problems. He suffered from prostate cancer and kidney failure. Earlier in 2014, he spent a few weeks in hospitals battling infections and complications.
Vincent Gray, D.C.’s current mayor has ordered flags in the city to be lowered in Barry’s honor. Barry is survived by Marion Christopher Barry, son, and Cora, his wife.
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