Marion Barry

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Marion Barry

Marion Barry was a mayor of Washington DC.

Early Life/Education

Marion Barry was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on March 6, 1936. Barry grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School[1].


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 Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and moved to Washington, D.C. in 1965 to open a local chapter[2].



Highlander Research and Education Center, April 3, 2013 ·

On this day in 1960, Highlander concluded its Seventh Annual College Workshop. Eighty-three students from 20 colleges were there, among them young leaders who would become driving forces of the Civil Rights Movement, including Marion Barry, Diane Nash, Julian Bond, and future Congressman John Lewis, pictured below (first row, all the way to the right). Of this group, Highlander's Director of Education, Septima Clark, said, "Our young have gone out in front, and we must run to keep up with them. We must give them our support, but we must not attempt to wrest the leadership from them."


In 1971, Barry 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. Only the second person elected mayor of Washington, D.C., Barry was known for building coalitions with traditionally marginalized populations, including African Americans, women and homosexuals.

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 re-elected Barry as mayor in a landslide victory[3].

IPS connection

In 1979 Marion Barry, Mayor, District of Columia served on the steering committee of the Institute for Policy Studies initiated Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies[4]

Marion Barry was a member of the Institute for Policy Studies 20th Anniversary celebrations committee which organized an April 5, 1983, reception at the National Building Museum attended by approximately 1,000 IPS staffers and former staff.[5]

Democratic Agenda

More than 1,200 people attended the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee initiated Democratic Agenda Conference held November 16-18, 1979, at the International Inn and Metropolitan AM Church in Washington 1 DC. The conference focused on "corporate power'; as the key barrier to "economic and political democracy," concepts many Democratic Agenda participants defined as "socialism.'

The Democratic Agenda meetings attempted to develop anti-corporate alternatives" through influencing the direction of the Democratic Party during the period leading to the July 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York.

Keynote speakers included Washington, DC, Mayor Marion Barry, Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee leader Mildred Jeffrey and Democratic Socialists Organizing Committee chairman Michael Harrington.[6]

Rainbow Convention

At conferences in Houston and Washington DC, Jesse Jackson announce d the National Rainbow Coalition's Midterm Conference. He was flanked by Rep. Mickey Leland, chair Congressional Black Caucus, David Cortright of SANE, James Zogby of the Arab American institute, Clarence Mitchell, chair National Association of Black State Legislators, C. Delores Tucker, DNC Black Caucus, Arthur Kinoy Center for Constitutional Rights, and Marion Barry, chair, Conference of Black Mayors. [7]

1987 Rainbow conference/Board

At the 1987 National Rainbow convention in Raleigh North Carolina, a new board was elected, which included Marion Barry.


In December 1963 Gloria Richardson attended a national meeting of SNCC leaders in Atlanta, where they discussed the future direction of the organization. Present were Bob Moses, Charles Sherrod, Frank Smith, John Lewis, Courtland Cox, Mike Thelwell, Stokely Carmichael, James Forman, Dottie Zellner, Ivanhoe Donaldson, Marion Barry, and Joyce Ladner, as well as staff and volunteers. Ella Baker and Howard Zinn led questioning to help the mostly young leaders work toward their vision for activism. In Atlanta they discussed and planned for an extended voting rights program to be conducted in the South the next year, an election year.[8]