Monday, August 10, 2009
For as long as I can remember, to hear the name Marion Barry only brought thoughts of contempt and disgrace. My first and only knowledge of the man were the survelliance tapes of him in his hotel room smoking crack in 1990, while Mayor of DC. Unfortunately this image and the media portrayal of Barry shaped my entire perception of him and unlike other topics that I have had to deprogram myself from, the issue of Marion Barry never seemed important enough to research in greater detail, until now.
Tonight HBO premiered a new documentary entitled "The 9 Lives of Marion Barry." The documentary chronicled the amazing career of the disgraced former mayor and paralleled between the past and the politician's current run for city council.
I hate to acknowledge my ignorance on anything, but I must say that my perception of Barry has changed entirely after watching the film. Marion Barry was a charismatic, outspoken, radical, political activist, who marched with Dr King and fought for the poor people of DC during a time when this was not the fashion. Barry served 4 terms as Mayor of DC and was later caught up in the crack epidemic that swept across the nation. Before his unprecedented fall from grace however, Barry served the people of DC well and brought a sense of pride and hope to the city's disenfranchised black population that had not been seen before.
In 2008 after retiring from politics Marion Barry was elected to city council. This in and of itself is a true testament to the concept of falling and getting back up. Barry is inspiration to anyone who has ever fallen from grace, had demons to overcome, or who simply had to come up on the proverbial rough side of the mountain. Weather or not you hate him, love him or are indifferent, I suggest taking a look at this documentary. It is a very intriguing chapter in American History.