Washington, DC — Marion Barry Jr., a civil rights activist who served four times as mayor of Washington, D.C., recently died at the age of 78 years old. He had been in and out of the hospital, battling several illnesses including prostate cancer and complications from a recent kidney transplant.
Here are 10 reasons why we will never forget him:
#1 – In 1972, in response to the blaxploitation film Super Fly, Barry formed a protest group named Blacks Against Narcotics and Genocide (BANG) saying the film was harmful to black youth because it glorified drug abuse.
#2 – In 1972, as president of the Washington DC Board of Education, Barry advocated for a larger budget for education and raises for teachers. He also supported the appointment of Barbara Sizemore as the city’s first female school superintendent.
#3 – Although he was shot and nearly killed in 1977 by a group of radical Hanafi Muslims, Barry did not give up in pursuing his goals to help bring justice and economic empowerment to the people of Washington, DC.
#4 – With credentials as both an activist and legislator, in 1978, Barry ran for Mayor with the campaign slogan “Take A Stand”. He won the Democratic primary election, and beat his Republican opponent.
#5 – During his first term as Mayor (1978-1982), Barry was credited for improving city administration and government services, instituting his signature summer jobs program (in which summer employment was made available to every school-age resident), and for fixing the city’s financial problems.
#6 – During his second term as Mayor (1982-1986), Barry was credited with creating a real estate boom in Washington, DC and establishing the District’s entry into the open bond market with Wall Street’s highest credit rating.
#7 – For his third term as Mayor (1986-1990), despite having a few setbacks and issues, Barry received the endorsement of The Washington Post and was still well-loved and supported by the Washington, DC community.
#8 – In 1995, despite his 1990 arrest after being caught on camera smoking crack cocain, Barry ran for Mayor again using the slogan “He May Not Be Perfect, But He’s Perfect for D.C.”. He won 70 percent of the vote, and his victory was deemed one of the most remarkable comebacks in political history.
#9 – In 2007, Barry was chosen as one of 50 wax statues to debut in the Washington D.C. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Others chosen included Al Gore, Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Martin Sheen, Marilyn Monroe, Nancy Reagan and Oprah Winfrey.
#10 – Earlier this year, Barry published a new autobiography entitled, Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr., where he discusses his legacy and the many controversies in his life. His recent interview with Oprah Winfrey on her “Where Are They Now?” show is set to air this coming Sunday at 9pm on the OWN network.