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The Honorable Marion Barry

Marion Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi on March 6, 1936. From an impoverished family, he went on to become a vigorous civil rights activist and served four terms as Mayor of the District of Columbia. Barry grew up in Memphis, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School. During the City's 1958 bus desegregation drive, Barry received his first taste of public confrontation and media notoriety. Subsequently, he abandoned his doctoral studies in Chemistry at the University of Tennessee to join the civil rights movement full-time. Barry was elected the first chairman of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965 to open a local chapter. He never left.

Barry quickly became a formidable politician in the nation's capital. In 1971, he was elected to serve on the city's first school board. Three years later, when Congress allowed local elections, Barry won a seat on the District of Columbia City Council. As the second elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Barry was known for building coalitions with marginalized populations, including African Americans, women and the LGBT community. Barry held that office for twelve years, until a misdemeanor drug conviction forced him to step down. After a brief hiatus, Barry made a triumphant return to political office when he won back a seat on the City Council. In 1994, enthusiastic supporters reelected Barry as mayor in a landslide victory. Barry resided in Washington, D.C. with his wife Cora.

Barry passed away on November 23, 2014 at age 78.

Accession Number

A2000.005

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

8/7/2000

Last Name

Barry

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

LeMoyne-Owen College

Fisk University

University of Tennesee

Archival Photo 2
First Name

Marion

Birth City, State, Country

Itta Bena

HM ID

BAR04

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

3/6/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Seafood

Death Date

11/23/2014

Short Description

Mayor Marion Barry (1936 - 2014 ) was a Mayor of Washington D.C., a member of the Council of the District of Columbia, and the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Employment

District of Columbia Government

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

District of Columbia

Favorite Color

Burgundy

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marion Barry interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marion Barry's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marion Barry describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marion Barry talks about his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marion Barry talks about losing touch with his father at an early age

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marion Barry talks about his siblings and their families

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marion Barry describes growing up in Itta Bena, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marion Barry explains why he moved to Memphis as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marion Barry describes living in Memphis as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about odd jobs he worked in his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Marion Barry talks about how his personality changed as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Marion Barry talks about how Scouting influenced him as a youth

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Marion Barry describes his educational experience

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Marion Barry says his mother complained about her domestic work

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Marion Barry talks about some of his friends from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marion Barry describes his leisure time during high school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about his decision to attend LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marion Barry says his family supported his decision to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marion Barry recalls becoming an activist at LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marion Barry describes the segregation in Memphis, Tennesse during the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marion Barry is unsure why he became active at LeMoyne College

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marion Barry describes speaking at a rally headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marion Barry talks about his admiration for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Marion Barry describes working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Marion Barry discusses the philosophy and strategies of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marion Barry gives his first impression of Washington, D.C. on his arrival in 1965

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about his social work with African American youth in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marion Barry talks about his work as president of Washington, D.C.'s Board of Education

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marion Barry talks about making social improvements while serving on the City Council of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marion Barry talks about appointing minorities to city government positions when he was mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marion Barry explains why he ran for the Washington, D.C. school board

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marion Barry says that his mathematical aptitude and good memory helped him as a politician

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marion Barry describes how his belief in the political system changed over time

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about being shot in the chest in 1977

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about his past endorsements from the 'Washington Post'

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Marion Barry describes his first successful mayoral campaign

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Marion Barry explains that his politics are based on empowerment

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Marion Barry talks about his relationship with the black middle class

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Marion Barry talks about coping with the difficult nature of political office

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marion Barry talks about his relationship with white voters

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marion Barry talks about the influence of African American politicians

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marion Barry shares some regrets about his time as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marion Barry discusses Washington D.C's relationship with the federal government

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marion Barry says he never stopped working hard as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marion Barry discusses the Ivanhoe Donaldson embezzlement scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marion Barry reflects on sex and drug scandals during his time as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marion Barry describes how incarceration helped him overcome his drug problems and continue in politics

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about his last term as Mayor of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Marion Barry talks about his future career plans

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Marion Barry discusses political and economic empowerment for African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marion Barry talks about his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marion Barry does not regret his decision not to pursue a career in science

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marion Barry disagrees with those who have called him an embarrassment

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marion Barry sympathizes with President Bill Clinton

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marion Barry discusses his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marion Barry says what it means to be black in America

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marion Barry explains the uniqueness of African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marion Barry explains why he favors reparations for slavery

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marion Barry talks about the importance of the HistoryMakers project

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Marion Barry at his mayoral inauguration parade in Washington D.C., January, 1979

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Marion Barry's mother, Mattie Cummings, 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - A young Marion Barry supporter, 1992-1994

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Marion Barry in a Martin Luther King Day parade, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Photo - Marion Barry at a rally in Nigeria, 1992-1993

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Photo - Marion Barry with firefighters at his city council inauguration, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 16 - Photo - Marion Barry with son Christopher and friends

Tape: 5 Story: 17 - Photo - Marion Barry with fellow city council members, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 18 - Photo - Marion Barry with his son Christopher with rap artist M.C. Hammer, ca. 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 19 - Photo - Marion Barry, his wife, Cora, and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 20 - Photo - Marion Barry with President Bill Clinton at the White House, Washington, D.C., 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 21 - Photo - Marion Barry meeting with local businessmen Washington, D.C., 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 22 - Photo - Collage made by a neighborhood group of Marion Barry with his son, Christopher Barry, Washington, D.C., ca. 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 23 - Photo - Marion Barry, Jerry Rawlings, President of Ghana, and their spouses, Washington, D.C., 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 24 - Photo - Marion Barry shaking hands with Judge Eugene Hamilton at his mayoral inauguration breakfast, Washington, D.C., 1995

Tape: 5 Story: 25 - Photo - Marion Barry presenting Dorothy Height of the National Council of Negro Women with a key to the city, Washington, D.C., 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 26 - Photo - Dorothy Height speaking at the opening of the National Council of Negro Women headquarters, Washington, D.C., 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 27 - Photo - Marion Barry and his wife attend a luncheon at the South African Embassy with Nelson Mandela, Washington, D.C., 1994

Tape: 5 Story: 28 - Photo - Marion Barry is sworn in as a member of the City Council, Washington, D.C., January, 1993

Tape: 5 Story: 29 - Photo - Marion Barry interviewed by radio host Tom Joyner, 1996

Tape: 5 Story: 30 - Photo - Marion Barry being greeted during his visit to the Ivory Coast, 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 31 - Photo - Marion Barry being greeted during his visit to Guinea, 1997

Tape: 5 Story: 32 - Photo - Marion Barry speaks while his mother, Mattie Cummings, and sister Gloria look on, 1995