Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry died overnight at United Medical Center in Washington at the age of 78. Barry had gone to the hospital on Thursday complaining that he was not feeling well and was released; he died a few hours later. Barry was a four-term mayor of the nation’s capital and survived a series of scandals, including an arrest for possession of crack cocaine.
Born to sharecropper parents on March 6, 1936, in Itta Bena, Mississippi, he was first elected mayor of Washington, D.C.. in 1978. He rose to fame as an official of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and championed the impoverished and disenfranchised. He was re-elected in 1982 and 1986 and was called “Mayor for life” because of his popularity and election victories. The city of Washington, however, suffered significantly during the latter years of his administration. It was plagued by scandal and corruption that reached all the way to Barry with dramatic consequences.
In 1990, Barry was the target of an FBI sting operation and was videotaped smoking crack in a Washington hotel room with a female friend. When the FBI entered the room, Barry shouted, “B—– set me up!” He was convicted of a single count of drug possession and sentenced to six months in prison and drug rehabilitation. However, that did not stop Barry from returning to politics after serving his sentence and completing rehab. He re-entered politics by winning a city council seat representing the poorest district in the city. His city council victory led to him winning a fourth term as mayor of D.C. In recent days, Barry was in the spotlight with a new book titled, Mayor for Life, and was starting a book signing tour. He was featured on a recent episode of the Oprah Winfrey production “Where Are They Now,” which is due to air this Sunday at 9 p.m. EST.