Short Biography: Marion Barry

Topics: Marion Barry, Washington, D.C., The Washington Post Pages: 8 (2505 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Marion Barry, good mayor but bad man.

Marion Barry former Mayor of the United States capital. Most known in America for his "Bitch set me up", video taped, Ramada Inn arrest. Charged with possession of a controlled substance, he was still reelected in 1994. This proving Mayor Barry was respected by many Washington citizens and a good Mayor. Marion Barry was possibly a great man with great intentions but weaknesses to sex, drugs, racism and pressures of the position of taking care of a city.

Marion Barry born in Mississippi 1936. Raised in a poor family with a yearly income of $250, Marion grew a hatred for the white ruled society around him. Wanting so much more than what he had Marion always struggled to earn as much money as he could. Marion had many jobs as a teenager and teachers often understood he was a very hardworking individual. Barry always stayed out of crime devoting himself to hard work at school and work. (Agronsky 79-85)

Upon graduating from high school the same year of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas Supreme Court case, Marion would be the first Barry to attend college (Agronsky 87). Growing up in the desegregation period of America shaped the racially focused person Marion Barry became. Marion Barry attended LeMoyne College in South-Memphis were he majored in Chemistry. Teachers and Students alike agree he studied Chemistry to be different from the rest of black students attending LeMoyne (Agronsky 87). Marion claims to have had very different values than others brought up in the same area as he and he was always an individual (Agronsky 88). Unlike many black students in the fifties Marion was very driven by a struggle for civil rights and racial equality. When LeMoyne trustee Walter Chandler made several anti-integration statements Marion took his first action against racism. He wrote a letter to the school newspaper demanding Chandler's resignation. The letter was eventually reprinted in several Memphis newspapers. Upon reading the letter the NAACP executive Roy Akins stepped in and

Prendergast 2

heralded Marion as "one of the most righteous young men in Memphis!" (Agronsky 91). Even though the college was not very happy about Barry's remarks, the students and people of Memphis regarded him as a hero and a hope in the new civil rights movement "sweeping the south" (Agronsky 93). (Agronsky 90-93)

While getting his Master's Degree in Chemistry at Fisk University in Nashville, Marion Barry would continue the struggle for integration. Participating in sit-ins at white restaurants and other non-violent protests toward Jim Crow laws. Also at this time Marion Barry heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s inspirational words for the first time. Barry became more and more involved in the civil right movement and was eventually elected chairman of the newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Here he earned his name as a civil rights leader giving very powerful speeches and acquiring large funds for the group. (Agronsky 95-105) Often the SNCC would protest in Washington D.C. and Marion Barry gained recognition with the people of the city.

Jonathan I.Z. Agronsky claims to see a pattern in Marion Barry through all this. He believes Barry is driven by his own struggle for manhood and lust for woman. In Kansas Marion Barry taught a few chemistry classes and some female students claimed he was a sexual deviant. Also many friends he had in the civil rights movement commented on his flirtations with women. (Agronsky 95-105) Possibly this is the first warning signs of a person who will need to control himself if he wishes to represent a people or a city.

Finding politics his true calling Marion Barry dropped out of school to work full time for SNCC. After many struggles in the south to get blacks on delegation boards the SNCC would sent Marion to northern cities to gain funds for the movements. Marion would hold huge fund-raisers...

Cited: Agronsky, Jonathan I.Z.. Marion Barry: The politics of Race. Latham: British American Publishing. 1991.
Barras, Jonetta Rose. The Last of the Black Emperors. Baltimore: Bancroft Press. 1998
Coleman, Milton
"Marion Barry: Making of a Mayor." 21 May 1998 (25 February 2000).
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