Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chairman Phil Mendelson and the DC Council, and other dignitaries formally dedicated and unveiled the historic bronze statue of the late four-term Mayor of the District of Columbia, the Honorable Marion S. Barry, Jr.
“Sometime after Martin had a dream and before President Obama gave us hope, Marion Barry provided opportunity,” said Mayor Bowser. “Mr. Barry was a larger than life figure – a man who could both lead the protest as an activist and engage the protest as Mayor. He gave hope to those who had lost it and created access to the middle class for Washingtonians who, for years, had been locked out of power and prosperity. With this statue, we are preserving a tremendous part of Washington, DC’s history, and honoring our Mayor for Life, Marion Barry.”
Marion S. Barry, Jr. was born on March 6, 1936 in Itta Bena, Mississippi. After being elected as the first chairman of the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960, he moved to Washington, DC in 1965 to lead SNCC’s work. In 1967, with financial support from the US Department of Labor, Barry co-founded Pride Inc., an organization that employed young men from the District’s most impoverished neighborhoods. In 1971, after years as an activist, Barry made the transition to electoral politics when he ran for a seat on the DC School Board, where he was then elected President. In 1974, after Washington, DC finally achieved Home Rule, Barry ran for and was elected as an at-large councilmember. In 1978, he launched his first campaign for mayor, won, and served three consecutive terms as the Mayor of the District of Columbia. In 1992, we was elected as the Ward 8 Councilmember, a position he served in until 1994 when he was once again elected mayor. In 2004, Barry was once again elected as the Ward 8 councilmember, and he served in this position until his death on November 23, 2014.
The eight-foot tall bronze statue of Washington, DC’s Mayor for Life was designed by artist Steven Weitzman, who was commissioned for the project through a competitive application process by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Weitzman’s sculpture was based on hours of studying photographs and video recordings and conversations with Mayor Barry’s family and colleagues. The statue is located at the northeast corner of the John A. Wilson Building, near the intersection of 13½ Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.