R.I.P. Marion Barry: The Mayor For Life

When I worked in D.C. Government, I met the former Mayor and (at the time) Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry. Such a warm person; he always had a smile on his face. Sadly he died today, leaving a gaping hole in his beloved Ward 8 and throughout the city.

I took this picture several years while on a trip to South Africa. Mayor Barry (yes we still called him Mayor, lol) is in the middle. He stopped to talk and “jam” with few local musicians on the street. To me, this photo captures the type of person he was. Someone not afraid to connect with others, share himself and above all, enjoy life.


I’m not a native Washingtonian. However, I have lived in Ward 8 for most of my time here. I know (firsthand) the passion and emotion for Marion Barry runs deep in this city. Love him. Hate him. His life is/was a testament to public service and working for those who remained marginalized. He really loved D.C., there is no doubt about that.

Over the coming days and weeks, there will be tributes to him. Some will be positive and reflective. Others will be negative and critical. All I ask is that everyone look at the totality of his life and his work — not just single instances — and what he really wanted to accomplish as a public servant.

Better yet, just forego all the news reports. Purchase his autobiography and read his own words.

R.I.P Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. 


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