When we in DC, Maryland, and Virginia (the DMV) woke on a chilly but clear Sunday morning, there was no way we could know another strand in the rich political and cultural fabric of DC, would be pulled from us. Summer youth employment, programs for seniors, to his annual Thanksgiving turkey give-away; the thought of a DC without the influence and impact of Marion Barry on the community and its people could not be fathomed. Yet that was the news given over pulpits, throughout Facebook streams, and on every corner in the city Sunday, November 23rd, 2014. It is a challenge to find anyone born and/or raised in the DC area, over the age of 30, who does not have a story about how Marion Barry, his programs, legislation, or care for the community or its residents affected them. However, some of the best stories and insight about the man and politician come, perhaps, from those who knew and worked with him the longest. One such person is Congresswoman Norton.
Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has been as much a staple of the Washington, DC political scene as “Mayor-for Life,” Marion Barry. They met she says, “as kids” while in SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) where Barry served as the first chairman. When speaking of how she would remember him she said she remembers “the vision of a man moved by those who were left out of society.” The official statement given on the Congresswoman’s website reads:
“From my earliest encounter with Marion Barry, when he was the first chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee until I came back home and found him mayor of my home town, I have seen Marion take hold and write his signature boldly on his own life and times and on the life of the nation’s capital. Many took his struggle to personify in some way their own, endearing him and making him a larger-than-life figure as he became a creator of post-home-rule D.C.”
Hear, in her own words, what she remembers about her friend and colleague, Marion Barry, what she thinks of his legacy, and what she feels he would want done to carry on his work.