Barry, Marion Shepilov, 1936-2014

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Marion Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi on March 6, 1936. From an impoverished family, he went on to become a vigorous civil rights activist and served four terms as Mayor of the District of Columbia. Barry grew up in Memphis, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School. During the City's 1958 bus desegregation drive, Barry received his first taste of public confrontation and media notoriety. Subsequently, he abandoned his doctoral studies in Chemistry at the University of Tennessee to join the civil rights movement full-time. Barry was elected the first chairman of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965 to open a local chapter. He never left.

Marion Shepilov Barry was an American politician who served as Mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991 and 1995 to 1999. A Democrat, Barry had served three tenures on the Council of the District of Columbia, representing as an at-large member from 1975 to 1979 and in Ward 8 from 1993 to 1995, and again from 2005 to 2014.

In the 1960s, he was involved in the civil rights movement, first as a member of the Nashville Student Movement and then serving as the first chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Barry came to national prominence as mayor of the national capital, the first prominent civil rights activist to become chief executive of a major American city. He gave the presidential nomination speech for Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.

His celebrity was transformed into international notoriety in January 1990, when he was videotaped during a sting operation smoking crack cocaine and was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) officials on drug charges. The arrest and subsequent trial precluded Barry from seeking re-election, and he served six months in a federal prison. After his release, he was elected to the Council of the District of Columbia in 1992. He was elected again as mayor in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999.

Despite his history of political and legal controversies, Barry was a popular and influential figure in Washington, D.C. The alternative weekly Washington City Paper nicknamed him "Mayor for life", a designation that remained long after Barry left the mayoralty.The Washington Post once stated that "to understand the District of Columbia, one must understand Marion Barry".

Barry quickly became a formidable politician in the nation's capital. In 1971, he was elected to serve on the city's first school board. Three years later, when Congress allowed local elections, Barry won a seat on the District of Columbia City Council. As the second elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Barry was known for building coalitions with marginalized populations, including African Americans, women and the LGBT community. Barry held that office for twelve years, until a misdemeanor drug conviction forced him to step down. After a brief hiatus, Barry made a triumphant return to political office when he won back a seat on the City Council. In 1994, enthusiastic supporters reelected Barry as mayor in a landslide victory. Barry resided in Washington, D.C. with his wife Cora.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Branton, Wiley A. Papers, 1946-1989. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University
creatorOf Lovell, Malcolm Read, Jr., 1921-. Papers, [ca. 1960-1990]. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
creatorOf Barry, Marion, 1936-. Marion Barry : commercials, 1982 University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
creatorOf Julian Bond papers [manuscript], 1965, 1972-2006. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Greenfield, Meg. Meg Greenfield papers, 1890-1999 (bulk 1952-1999). Library of Congress
referencedIn Davis, Thulani. Thulani Davis collection, 1967-1997. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Meg Greenfield Papers, 1890-1999, (bulk 1952-1999) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Gordon, Martin K. District of Columbia home rule research collection, 1788-1980 (bulk 1971-1980). Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
referencedIn Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 10/11/78 Jimmy Carter Library
referencedIn Records of District Courts of the United States. 1685 - 2009. Criminal Case Files. 1863 - 1992. United States of America v. Marion S. Barry, Jr. National Archives at Washington, D.C
referencedIn Records of Organizations in the Executive Office of the President. 1963 - 2001. Moving Images Relating to Drug Control Policy During the Administration of President George H. W. Bush National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Ben's Chili Bowl records 1943-2010. George Washington University
referencedIn Peoples Bicentennial Commission. Recordings [sound recording], 1976. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Records of District Courts of the United States. 1685 - 2009. Criminal Case Files. 1863 - 1992. United States of America v. Marion S. Barry, Jr. National Archives at Washington, D.C
creatorOf Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.). Atlanta Office. Chairman's files, 1960-1969. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Center
creatorOf Dutton, Benson Leroy, 1910-1992. Papers of Benson Leroy Dutton, 1928-1991. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Photographs of Peace Corps Directors and their Activities, 1961 - 1990 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Nelson, Jill, 1952-. Jill Nelson papers, 1985-2006. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.). Washington Office. Free D.C. Movement files, 1961-1968. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Center
creatorOf Robinson, Betty Garman. Betty Garman Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee files, 1961-1966. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Nelson, Jill, 1952-. Jill Nelson papers, 1985-2002. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf The HistoryMakers Video Oral History with The Honorable Marion Barry The HistoryMakers
Relation Name
correspondedWith Branton, Wiley A. person
associatedWith Davis, Thulani. person
associatedWith Dutton, Benson Leroy, 1910-1992. person
associatedWith Gordon, Martin K. person
associatedWith Greenfield, Meg. person
associatedWith Lovell, Malcolm Read, Jr., 1921- person
associatedWith Nelson, Jill, 1952- person
associatedWith Peoples Bicentennial Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Robinson, Betty Garman. person
associatedWith Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.). Atlanta Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.). Washington Office. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oklahoma. Political Commercial Archive. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
District of Columbia DC US
Itta Bena (Miss.)
Subject
Radio advertising
Advertising, political
Occupation
Mayor
Activity

Person

Birth 1936-03-06

Birth 19360306

Death 20141123

Male

African Americans

English

Information

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