It's Not Political, It's Just Life

Political discourse without the spin.

Still Mayor for Life: R.I.P., Marion Barry

Mayor Marion Barry in 2009, from NY Daily News

Mayor Marion Barry in 2009, from NY Daily News

I had to stop fooling around w/homework and ‘my work’ this morning to pay my respects to a man who improved the lives of his constituents, which is what a politician is supposed to do. Mayor Marion Barry passed away on Sunday morning, 11/23/14. At that time, he was a member of Washington, D.C.’s City Council. Even after all he’d been through, and the triumph of returning to his ‘rightful place’ as Mayor of D.C., he had to stay involved.

After returning to private life for a short time, he decided to run for a City Council spot and won, of course. An interesting statement made about Mayor Barry to a competitor for his mayoral position was that if he had a dollar, he’d make sure that his people got part of it, whereas the competing candidate’s intentions were nowhere near as clear.

It was unfortunate that he was set up in that hotel sting. In retrospect, this is something that happens to Black men across the board when someone thinks they’re getting too much power; let’s ruin his reputation. They tried it with Dave Chappelle, it didn’t work. They tried it with Michael Jackson; he was vindicated. Most times, they’re just killed. Yes, killed. This might be what’s happening to Cosby right now, but that’s a conversation for another article.

“Mayor For Life” was the title of his autobiography, released earlier this year; how fitting. One of his great quotes while visiting a church in his city back in the 80s: “We are living in an imperfect world where people expect us to be perfect.” That was the sum of his political life; when his reputation was drug through the mud, it was the people who he helped along the way that came to his aid in return, re-electing him to his position as Mayor as if nothing ever happened. They saw the hypocrisy of his opponents.

Barry arrives for a viewing of musical artist Chuck Brown at the Howard Theater on May 29, 2012 in Washington. (Photo Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

Barry arrives for a viewing of musical artist Chuck Brown at the Howard Theater on May 29, 2012 in Washington. (Photo Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

Mayor Barry started fighting for civil rights as a young man in the 60s, as a prominent member of SNCC. Later, when it became apparent that the city of Washington, D.C. needed to run its own affairs, he was right there, fighting for the people, and making sure they got ‘a piece’ of the spoils. It was that propensity that enabled him to overcome time and again anything the establishment threw at him. It was said that he single-handedly brought many Black families out of poverty into the middle-class in that city, providing opportunities that without his insistence, would have never happened. And that’s what a good politician is supposed to do.

Rest in peace, Mr. Mayor. You did your job; it wasn’t always easy, you didn’t always make the right choice, but which one of us does? And I send my prayers to his family.

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