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Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:43 PM

What the Media Are Not Telling You About the Late Marion Barry

What the Media Are Not Telling You About the Late Marion Barry
Dave Zirin on November 23, 2014 - 11:58 PM ET

A bevy of right-wing pundits, radio jocks and late-night comics will mock the passing of four-time DC mayor Marion Barry. In life and death, his enemies will take their shots without trying to understand why people—particularly the marginalized and criminalized—mourn his passing. Barry’s talent—and his sin in the eyes of the powerful—was the ability to organize a true urban political machine comprised of black residents in the old style of the white ethnic political bosses. Like the bosses of yesteryear, he gave and he took. He had vices both political and personal and he knew how to count votes. But Barry also understood social movements. He came out of the black freedom struggle in the 1960s where racists flicked lit cigarettes into his face. Barry always knew how to wear his scars like medals.

As the misinformation—and some lionization—flies, here are fourteen facts about Marion Barry to help decode the demonization, and a couple of memories about times our paths crossed.

1. Barry quit his graduate studies in chemistry at Fisk University to become an organizer in the civil rights movement—most famously with the student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was one of the more conservative members of SNCC where he fought alongside—and fought with—revolutionaries like Stokely Carmichael. It was reform vs. revolution amidst the rapid real time of a black freedom struggle exponentially expanding.

2. After moving to Washington, DC, in the mid-1960s, Barry organized a citywide boycott in response to bus fare hikes and against police brutality. Barry also organized hundreds of working class and poor black men into an organization called Pride, which helped people get jobs as well as organizing them as a voting bloc.


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Reply What the Media Are Not Telling You About the Late Marion Barry (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 2014 OP
Warpy Nov 2014 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Nov 24, 2014, 03:50 PM

1. He was your typical great man with feet of clay

and since he was the "wrong" color, he was hounded by people who wanted to make sure he got caught at it.

It didn't matter. People in DC knew who he was and allowed him his considerable human frailty. I, too, would rather a great leader who dabbled in drugs and hookers but who knew the difference between good and bad for the public than some pious jackass who sits around while the wealthy rob us blind.

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