Friday, 02 March 2018 15:21

Unveiling of the Statue of Mayor Marion Barry

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and former Washington, DC Mayor Marion Barry share a few words during an event honoring the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, where Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech 30 years ago. A plaque-unveiling ceremony and following march were part of a two-day 40th speech anniversary march in the U.S. capital. U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and former Washington, DC Mayor Marion Barry share a few words during an event honoring the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, where Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech 30 years ago. A plaque-unveiling ceremony and following march were part of a two-day 40th speech anniversary march in the U.S. capital. AFP Photo /Paul J. Richards/ 23 August 2003

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DO YOU FEEL THAT?

It’s March 2nd in Washington, DC and the wind is roaring in on the day before the unveiling of the statue of our “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry. He was DC’s iconic four-term mayor who died a few years ago. But I can imagine that Marion Barry is coming back to DC – symbolized by this roaring March wind – powerful, disruptive, assertively eliminating all in his path while energizing and pushing us forward. Letting you know that a change is a-coming; just like Barry did in 1965.

Marion Barry was fresh out of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. Dr. James Forman, of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), dispatched Barry to shake things up around here. He was sent to wake up this sleepy little southern town, just south of the Mason Dixon line –Washington, DC. He was to let the people living here know that despite the national monuments, the U.S. Capitol Building, the expansive National Mall and the stately museums of the Smithsonian Institution, that they were oppressed and suffering some of the same indignities that their more southern cousins faced in the deeper South.

Barry was sent here to start a new SNCC office and then the “Free DC” Movement. And that’s exactly what he did. He challenged the system just started by the less radical, Walter Washington – DC’s first elected mayor, who was a good and solid man. But it was undeniable that Barry stormed into DC with his protest marches using the SNCC strategy of nonviolent direct action against store owners who didn’t support Free DC’s efforts to give a voice and a vote to residents in the United States Congress. He stormed into DC to establish Pride, Inc. to give the dignity of employment to black men who initially had nothing and were given a seat at the power table. As his direct action tactics succeeded, he would eventually be hailed as the champion of the people. But as he found out later, not only did power concede nothing without a demand, it conceded nothing without an opposite and equal rejection of the challenger.

As our founder Ms. Loree Murray continued to remind us, Stand Up! for Democracy in DC was merely a continuation of the “Free DC” Movement. Barry sought jobs, power and voting rights for the people. We carried on a piece of that movement with a demand for DC statehood – and all the democratic rights that brings with it.

As we seek to continue that forceful energy of challenge that the Honorable Marion Barry brought to Washington, DC, we will seek fresh new ways to accomplish the goal of breaking the chains that continue to bind the people of Washington, DC to the U.S. Congress.

In tribute to Marion Barry, members of Stand Up! / Free DC will be present at the unveiling of his statue on Pennsylvania Avenue NW – not far from the White House – wearing our “Free DC” caps and buttons. We will also be there to gather the strength, power and inspiration that he brought with him in 1965.

We know that this day will confirm his expansive legacy and that those who are present at the event will continue with our actions to achieve statehood for the residents of the District of Columbia!

Here’s to the power of today’s wind storm that was Marion Barry as it continues to roar and as we commit to agitate, educate, organize and mobilize until victory is won. FREE DC! Statehood NOW!

Anise Jenkins
Executive Director
Stand Up! for Democracy in DC (Free DC)
March 2, 2018

Read 344 times Last modified on Friday, 09 March 2018 20:42

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Stand Up! / Free DC was founded in 1997 to help the 670,000+ residents of our nation’s capital achieve full and equal citizenship rights. Stand Up! / Free DC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

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