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 in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Barry saw that even though the northern cities were integrated they still held problems for blacks. They often lived in ghettos and with low-paying jobs. Racial situations in the city also needed social reform (Agronsky 120).
The first city the SNCC approached for reform was Washington D. C. , they sent Marion to head the movement there. Even though Washington D. C. was integrated black and whites did not mix well.
It was a unspoken understanding that blacks were not accepted at white establishments. A bigger problem was Prendergast 3 that the people of the city did not have any voting privileges until 1961 when they were granted the right to vote for the president. However they did not have any representation in congress. (Agronsky 122) The Majority of people in Washington were black. Barry felt they were not being represented. Also in urban areas it was difficult to rally many to one cause because the people 'were alienated, antisocial...
angrier... lacking the sharply defined target of the south... filled with undirected hostility and generalized mistrust's ays Claiborne Carson (Agronsky 124). Marion however overcomes this and leads a boycott of the D. C. transit.
Barry also led a campaign called 'Free D. C.' which was formed to grant Washington home rule. 'Free D. C.' consisted of block-parties and youth gatherings, Marion would educate blacks on the benefits of being involved in politics.
(Agronsky 127-131) Marion would later resign from the SNCC claiming 'The civil rights direction of protest is dead... Now we must concentrate on control-economic and political power.' (Agronsky 131) With Youth Pride Economic Enterprises (PEE) Barry led acquired federal funds from Johnson's Great Society and helped get thousands of black 14-18 year olds jobs cleaning the streets of D. C... PEE also was formed to stimulate black owned business in the poor areas.
Pride consisted of many parolees and despite drug abuse and a few murders linked to Pride workers, Pride helped many blacks get on the straight path to the American dream. Marion Barry became very popular with the community at this point. (Agronsky 135-148) Barry won his first election to a Police reform board. Here The board was designed to lower crime and prevent social disturbances between Police and residents.
Many did not approve of Barry's tactics of confronting current board members and forcing them to resign. Often Marion would storm a meeting and humiliate all in attendance. He had many clashes with police but always walked off a free man. Court juries could not come to a unanimous decision and the trials would be canceled. (Agronsky 155-165) Possibly Marion was never convicted because the government feared him.
Marion held great power over the poor black population of D. C... Barry then ran for 'the only elective office for which a District [of Columbia] resident could compete' (Agronsky 167), a seat on the Board of Education. Marion Barry was rapidly becoming a very Prendergast 4 likable and powerful politician. He won the seat and then went on to win board president. Barry however used the position to boost his popularity and gain power in racial politics not necessarily improve the Education in the schools.
Barry would often call any white politician, who opposed his actions, racist; causing them to back down. Barry however never lost face with the black citizens of Washington. This would strength.