Memorializing Marion Barry in a city still divided over his legacy — or oblivious to it

Mar 13th, 2017 | By | Category: Anacostia, Community, DC Urban History, History, News & Features, Politics & Law
Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

In the digital age, will a statue outlast a search engine?

That’s the question facing the guardians of the uniquely complicated legacy of former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, who veered between dominance and disgrace in a remarkable half-century political career.

Two years after Barry’s death at 78, his partisans in the nation’s capital just unveiled a proposed design for a life-size statue to be erected outside city hall, one of the public totems — from street art to street names — they hope will cement his place in the Washington pantheon for generations to come. They want to steer the memory of a fast-changing city toward the brighter chapters of the Barry Chronicles, his years as a civil rights hero and champion of the poor.

But when the city’s many newcomers type “Marion Barry” into their phones, they get the dark part. Google’s second hit is a newspaper headline: “Barry Arrested on Cocaine Charges.” The first is his Wikipedia entry, where the 1990 arrest comes in the second paragraph.

Merrick Malone, a developer who was Barry’s deputy mayor for economic development, rejects the caricature of Barry as a late-night punchline.

“I know there are people who want to dwell on his misdeeds and his flaws, but he was frankly a brilliant person who gave up a lot of his career on behalf of others,” Malone said. “We do need a dedicated effort to remind people that there is reason we should remember him positively.”

That effort began in earnest last week with a ceremony at the Wilson Building, where the proposed statue was unveiled. Cora Masters Barry, the mayor’s fourth wife and the chief keeper of his reputation, nodded approvingly at the portrayal of Barry as boldly astride a map of the District, one arm raised, a snappy fedora on his head.

She liked the likeness. But the hat? No so much.

Read full story @ The Washington Post

Please SHARE and help make the world a better place! All you have to do is click below...
Tags: ,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.