Marion Barry’s funeral procession took place over three days in early December. On December 5th, 2014 I took my bike and camera and set out to interview and photograph people who came out to line the processional route. I was struck with how many DC residents had a personal connection to Barry – it was clear he was very beloved by many people. People had so many different things to say, but if I had to sum it into one sentiment it would be thanks. Marion Barry was a champion to these people and he will be sorely missed.
Marion Barry RIP
An honor guard waitng Marion Barry’s final exit from the Wilson Building.
Marion Barry making his last exit from the Wilson Building.
Marion Barry being carried down the steps of the Wilson Building.
Here Cora Masters is escorted down the steps of Wilson Hall as she heads towards the hearse that will return Marion Barry to his beloved Anacostia. Cora and Barry we’re no longer married, but they remained very close.
Even the EMTs are caught up in the moment.
A young father wanted his boy to see Marion Barry one final time.
This is Juliette. The rose she is holding fell off Marion Barry’s casket as the casket was being transported. “Marion Barry is important to the history of Washington DC. I came here in 1967 and his activism and contributions were always present since I’ve arrived. And not just in the city. Many people of wealth in Prince George’s county benefited from Marion Barry’s programs and contracts. And not only contracts – many major companies survived on opportunities for capital created by Marion Barry. He opened capital to black people in particular and other people of color – he diversified access to capital.
“I came to pay my respects. The mayor gave me my first job 30 years ago. I started out as a janitor in the local schools and am still working today. He gave me the confidence to hold on to a job and start a career and it wasn’t easy because I am handicapped.” Someone on Instagram recognized this guy and says he currently works at Department of Justice. She says he’s a great guy.
“A lot of people don’t know what Marion Barry has done for this city. We’ve been knowing him all our lives. Washington was chosen by congress. Barry was elected by the people. ”
I am a nurse because of #marionbarry. Barry sponsored a nursing program in Takoma Park at the Columbia Union College for the people of the Have Nots. I was a Have Not at that time. But now I have good life and I thank Marion Barry for that.
“There will never be anyone like him in this city. No one stood by us and took care of us like Berry. He helped the whole city. He took care of US. No one in the city is looking out for us now.”
“I don’t know much about Marion Barry but I have heard some not so good things…but I wouldn’t judge him. I’m an addiction counselor and you have to look at the whole person – not just a single fault or action
“Marion Berry was a great civil rights leader. He wasn’t perfect bit he did a lot of good things for the people of this city”
Marion Barry did a lot for the city. He had his ups and downs but he did a lot. People are going to rag on him – like they always do- but the people that live here know that he did a lot for us.”
“Marion Barry was a good man because he remodeled all the schools around Fourth Street. We let up balloons for him in school to thank him for everything that he done around here that was nice. I feel very bad that he passed away because he won’t be able to make any more schools.”
Per his last requests, Marion Barry’s remains are carted through the streets of Anacostia on a horse drawn carriage. It was a sight to see. All around the neighborhood came out to say goodbye and offer their last words and memories of Marion. Here on Ward 8 Marion is a hero and will be remembered fondly.
This is Tonio. He’s Marion Barry’s godson.
Another shot of Marion Barry ‘s casket as it pulls past a group of children. As the carriage approached the children flocked to the fence to get a last look at the Mayor
Here Christopher Barry is greeted by children lining the processional route along Southern Avenue.
A woman salutes Barry’s casket
“Marion Barry got me my first job as part of the Summer Youth program. I was in a DC government job and I still work there today. The program taught me responsibility – it opened a door for me. People will miss Barry’s caring. He cared for the people of Ward8 and DC overall.
“Marion Barry’s passion was for the elderly and the young. My son went to Ballou and Barry would go over there and encourage the young people. He would give them a dream to shoot for. And Barry was passionate about keeping the youth off the streets and giving them the tools to create a career. The Youth Program was likes bricks, giving young people the chance to build themselves up. And the District benefited from that because it helped our youth become productive adults who are able to hold down jobs”
These woman were waiting for Barry’s procession to pass the United Medical Center. The woman on the right told me about an affordable housing initiative Barry created which allowed her to buy a home.
“I wouldn’t have had a home without Marion Barry – he’s the one who set the foundation for the home I live in now. He felt people should own their own homes instead of renting apartments and he fixed it so would be affordable. I got a three bedroom, living room, dinning room, and kitchen and it only cost me $109,000. I came here in 1970 and I’m telling you this is not the real world. A lot of these places that you go to now, you would not have had these opportunities even today. He made it possible for us. I came from Kentucky and right now, even today you would not have the opportunity to do that.”
These woman along the route we’re enthusiastic Barry supporters.
A woman waits to take Marion Barry’s picture as the casket arrives at Temple of Praise.
“Marion Barry helped me through a lot of situations. He didn’t force us to do anything but he made it much easier for us blacks to get jobs if you wanted a job. He helped for us, to you know pick yourself up. Help build up your character. Dust yourself off. Take pride in yourself. These newcomers out here don’t even want to come out of the office. Marion Barry walked the neighborhood. He’d shake your hand. If you didn’t have any money he would go into his pocket and give you a dime. Marion Barry came into your house and ate with you. I ate dinner in his home with his first wife. Ain’t no one else going to be like him. It’s going to be rough without him”
“Marion Barry deserved a send off from all district residents because he did so much for the city and cared so much for the people”
The entire group was eager to speak about Marion Barry .The woman in the middle was mute but half way through our conversation she turned towards her friend and pantomimed ‘The mayor never comes around here’ in very strong language.
“Barry is the only one in Ward 8 that is interacting with Ward 8. He comes to this park right here and plays horseshoes. We’ve been knowing him all our lives”.
“Marion Barry was a neighborhood man. He socialized. He came to this liquor store right here. I ate with him. No one else will understand us like him because he walked in our shoes.”