Marion Barry served as the District’s mayor and on the D.C. Council. (AFRO File Photo)
The D.C. Commission to Commemorate and Recognize the Honorable Marion S. Barry Jr., recently gave recommendations to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on how the District can honor the late political icon.
On Nov. 23, the one-year anniversary of Barry’s death, Bowser was given the report of the commission by its chairman, former D.C. Administrator Michael Rogers, at the John A. Wilson Building at an event sponsored by the alumni of Youth Pride, an employment initiative Barry co-founded in 1967. Barry served four terms as the District’s mayor (1979-1991, 1995-1999) and 15 years as a member of the D.C. Council as at-large (1975-1979) and then a Ward 8 representative (1993-1995, 2005-2014).
He also served a stint as president of the D.C. School Board from 1971-1974, serving two of those years as the board’s president.
Barry is prominently known for his youth jobs program that promised employment for District teenagers and young adults during the summer months. He was also recognized as the mayor that mandated that at least 40 percent of the District’s government contracts go to Black businesses and that large corporations and professional firms must sub-contract or partner with Black firms to participate in procurement programs.
The recommendations from the commission, included installing a bust or statute of Barry in front of the John A. Wilson Building and renaming Good Hope Road, S.E., Ballou Senior High School and the new student center at the University of the District of Columbia in honor of the late mayor.
Bowser lauded Barry’s service to the city.
“Sometime after Martin had a dream and before President Obama gave us hope, Marion Barry provided opportunity,” the mayor said. “And with these recommendations we will take the first step to rename Good Hope Road after Marion connecting him with Martin in the heart of Ward 8.”
Rogers was joined on the 13-member commission that was created by Bowser in March by luminaries such as former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt, former D.C. first lady and widow Cora Masters Barry, his son Christopher Barry, developer Herb Miller, D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large), Bowser aide Beverly Perry and D.C. Historian Dr. Janette Hoston Harris.
Rogers said Bowser gave the commission one-year to complete its work but they sped up the timeline for a reason.”We wanted to make sure that the mayor got our recommendations before the end of this year so she will be able to put them into her fiscal year 2017 budget,” he said.
Bowser responded to Rogers saying that D.C. City Administrator Rashad Young will go to work to implement some of the recommendations while still operating in the present fiscal year 2016.
Bonds was joined at the Youth Pride alumni ceremony by D.C. Council members Vincent Orange (D-At Large), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4).
A special hashtag on Twitter was created to remember Barry: #WeRememberMarionBarry. D.C. Council member LaRuby May (D-Ward 8), who won his position in an April 23 special election, also kept up one of Barry’s favorite traditions. She, along with volunteers, sponsored a turkey giveaway in Ward 8 on Nov. 23 that Barry made his signature community service project. The May contingent gave away 3,000 turkeys and other foods at the old Malcolm X Elementary School.
“It has been an honor to continue a tradition that was started by Marion Barry and what better time to have the turkey giveaway than on the first anniversary of his death,” May said.