DC celebrates ‘Mayor For Life’ with Marion Barry Day

On what would have been former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry’s 86th birthday, the District celebrated his life Sunday with live performances and an art auction as part of “Marion Barry Day.”

Known as D.C.’s “Mayor For Life,”  Barry was an activist and Civil Rights leader who made a foray into politics in the early 70s, running for and winning the presidency of the D.C. School Board.

A couple of years later, he won an at-large seat on the D.C. Council. After four years on the council, he was elected the District’s 2nd mayor, serving from 1979 to 1991. He served a fourth term from 1995 to 1999.

Earlier this month, the D.C. City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring March, 6, 2022, “Marion Barry Day” in the District.

“Marion Barry was one of the most visionary and revolutionary mayors in United States history,” Councilmember Robert White, who introduced the resolution, said in a statement. “His love for the Black community was inspirational, and it empowered generations of Black Washingtonians to call on the government to eliminate disparities, from education to employment to income.”

To honor Barry’s life, local streetwear company Somewhere and advocacy group Moechella partnered to host a celebration of Barry. The event was held from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Somewhere’s shop on First Street, SE.


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The organizations sold Marion Barry apparel during the event, which also featured live music. Part of the proceeds were donated to the Barry family charity.

“He was one of those civil rights leaders who recognized that in order to make real change he had to become a part of the system he’d been fighting against,” Vincent Gray, a member of the D.C. Council and a former mayor himself, told WTOP.

“And he converted himself from being outside, working to effectuate change, to being somebody who was inside having the authority and the opportunity to make change. And he made a lot of change.”

WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report. 

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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