By DaQuan Lawrence,
Special to the AFRO

On Jan. 20, the African American Mayors Association (AAMA) announced D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, as the inaugural recipient of the Marion Barry Jr. Award for Public Service. 

The award was named in honor of Barry, the last D.C. Mayor elected to serve three terms, and was created to recognize leaders who have a legacy of public service and leadership to the community via service to local governments.

“I am honored to receive this award, named in honor of our Mayor for Life, Marion Barry, whose footsteps I followed on Jan. 2 when I took the oath of office for a third time,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

The first Black woman elected to a third mayoral term in any large American city, Mayor Muriel Bowser won the award due to her significant reelection in November 2022, for a consecutive third, four-year term. 

Mayor Bowser received the award, amid leading the nation’s capital during several international crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges within the global economy such as looming inflation, and international threats to democracy.

“In recognition of her historic reelection to a third term, we proudly celebrate her long-standing leadership and incredible achievements. This award is a testament to dedicated public service and Mayor Bowser is well-deserving,” said AAMA President and Mayor of Little Rock, Frank Scott Jr. 

“A third term is a special opportunity because I have a mandate from the people to be bold, to think big, to push the envelope, and above all else, to win for Washington, D.C.. Now, the work continues to ensure every Washingtonian gets a fair shot” Bowser said. 

Earlier this month, Mayor Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) released D.C.’s Comeback Plan. The plan serves as an instrument for determining the District’s economic development agenda through 2028. 

Overall, the plan seeks to make Washington, D.C. ripe for business investment, with a thriving population and abundance of resource and opportunity-rich neighborhoods. 

Despite Black people’s historical significance and importance to D.C., approximately 86,300 Black people are impoverished in the city and many experience limited access to affordable housing, educational and employment opportunities and resources due to public policies.

Mayor Bowser’s plan explicitly seeks to address the economic inequality in the city, which severely and disproportionately affects the District’s Black population more than other ethnic groups. Goal 6 of the listed priorities includes “increasing economic prosperity in D.C. by lifting the median household income of Black residents by $25,000” by 2028.

“This is a comeback that is focused on equity” said Mayor Bowser speaking of the plan. 

“This is about making sure we have the revenues to support our world-class city services, our robust network of social programs, and the resources – like our schools and rec centers – that keep people in D.C.” she continued.  

Mayor Bowser has served her hometown as an elected official since 2004, when she was elected to the office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner. 

“Mayor Bowser is a friend, a colleague, and a role model for young girls and women throughout our nation,” said Mayor Scott, Jr.

During her mayoral tenure, she has created Washington, D.C.’s first Office of Racial Equity, and Office of Gun Violence Prevention. Mayor Bowser also funded the first ever Black Homeownership Fund and expanded the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program to young aged 24. 

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