Archive for Marion Barry

Media Should Treat Marion Barry Like it Treats Bill Clinton

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , , on December 2, 2014 by Gary Johnson


By Raynard Jackson

Last week, civil rights leader and political icon Marion Barry died and barely after he had taken his last breath, the media was besmirching his reputation.

Barry was a “true” civil rights icon, not one “appointed” by the media.  A “true” icon or leader should be like a candle; the more light he gives the less he becomes.  The more light a candle gives out to lighten the darkness, the less it becomes; that is the essence of true leadership and Barry had plenty of that.

Barry was born in Itta Bena, Miss. but was reared in Memphis, Tenn.  As a high school teen, Barry had a paper route and was promised a free trip to New Orleans if he obtained 15 new customers.  Barry and several other Black teens achieved the 15 new customers goal, but was denied the trip to New Orleans because the city was segregated.

So Barry organized all the other Blacks with paper routes and they refused to work their routes until the newspaper delivered on their promised trip to New Orleans.  They ended up receiving a free trip to St. Louis, my hometown because it was not a segregated city. This was the beginning of his fight against discrimination.

Barry graduated from LeMoyne College, now Lemoyne-Owen College, a historically Black college, in 1958 with a degree in chemistry.  He went on to receive his M.S. in organic chemistry from Fisk University, another historically Black college.  He was only a few credits away from receiving his Ph.D in chemistry from the University of Tennessee before dropping out to devote his attention full time to fight for civil rights for Blacks.

He eventually moved to Washington, D.C. where he served on the school board, four terms as mayor and three terms on the city council.  His two signature accomplishments, by far, are his summer youth jobs program and mandating strict minority participation in all DC procurement opportunities.

His youth job program began in the summer of 1979 and was eventually expanded to be a year-round program.  Under Barry, government contracting went from 3 percent to 47 percent of all procurement.  He also hired professional Blacks to run various government agencies under his control.  These actions were unprecedented in D.C. and have never been duplicated since, though every D.C. mayor has been Black.

So, by the time Barry was set up in a sting operation by the FBI smoking crack cocaine in 1990, he had established himself as a political powerhouse in D.C.; he had 20 years of being an advocate for good before he had his first negative blip as an elected official.

This is why I found the media’s behavior so offensive when, upon Barry’s death, they immediately began mentioning his arrest for smoking crack.  Is it a legitimate part of Barry’s life’s narrative?  Of course, but not in the immediate aftermath of his death.  Could the media not allow his body to grow cold before they talked about his personal flaws?

Whenever the media interviewed or discussed Barry, they somehow seemed to always find a way to interject his crack arrest into the story. But somehow this same media never mentions former president Bill Clinton’s many dalliances with women when they interview him or discuss his legacy; they hardly mention his admitted sexual affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinski.

How many of you are aware of 60 Minutes correspondent and CBS News chief foreign affairs reporter Lara Logan admitted to having sexual affairs with two American men simultaneously in Iraq that led to the two men getting into a fist fight over her (I guess she took her CBS News title literally).  U.S. State Department contractor Joe Burkett and CNN correspondent Michael Ware fought a battle royale over Logan in a Baghdad safe house which put innocent people’s lives in jeopardy.

How many of you are aware that NBA broadcaster and TNT announcer Marv Albert was accused of raping at least two women and agreed to plead to lesser charges.  He was suspended for two years, but his personal issues are rarely, if ever, mentioned.

I would just simply say, pull up a picture of each of these people and make your own conclusions.

Barry, without question, has created more Black millionaires in this area than all other people combined. Without Barry, there would be no Bob and Sheila Johnson, co-founders of BET, America’s first Black billionaires.

Without Barry, there would be no R. Donahue Peebles, head of Peebles Corporation, the largest Black-owned real-estate development company in America.  At the age of 23, Barry appointed him to the Board of Equalization and Review, the real estate tax appeals board; at the age of 24, he was made chairman of the board, one of the most powerful boards in D.C.

To my dismay, even Black-oriented –but not Black owned – media outlets, including The Root (owned by the Washington Post) and The Grio (owned by NBC) have been no better than the White media’s portrayal of Barry.

To White folks who seemed to be confused by the love affair average Blacks had with Marion Barry and are always asking me why Blacks seem to almost worship him; to those with that question, I say for the same reason average Whites seem to almost worship Ronald Reagan.

For all of Barry’s personal demons, like a candle, he used himself up to lighten the path for others. That is why people called him “Mayor for Life.

Raynard Jackson 2013 Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.

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Posted in Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , on November 24, 2014 by Gary Johnson


By Harold Bell

I remember when Marion Barry blew into Washington, DC like one of those Midwestern hurricanes in 1965. He came in as the first Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He came with the credentials of being involved with the Black Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee, first as an organizer in the Nashville Student Sit-ins.

When he arrived in Washington in 1965 I had just returned to my hometown after spending two years chasing my dreams of playing in the NFL without success. I was home looking for a job when my friend Petey Green alerted me that the United Planning Organization (UPO), a self-help community oriented organization was hiring. Petey knew the Director, Jim Banks and told me to meet him at the 11th & U Street NW office the next morning.

UPO hired three Neighborhood Workers for the Shaw/Cardozo community. Petey Greene, H. Rap Brown and me. The rest is community and media history. That same year the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee decided to make Washington, DC its home base—enter Marion Barry.

The late Petey Greene would make his mark as a legendary community and radio/television personality and H. Rap Brown would follow in the footsteps of Marion Barry as Chairman of SNCC. Brown is now serving a life sentence in Georgia for the shooting death of a State Trooper and Marion died on Sunday November 23, 2014.

I am “The Last Man Standing!”

Marion would parlay his civil rights and community involvement activities into a political power base base that will never be seen again in the Nation’s Capital. He was the first civil rights activist to become mayor of a major American city. In 1967, his path to political power was enhanced when he and his future wife, Mary Treadwell, co-founded Pride, Inc., a Department of Labor-funded program to provide job training to unemployed black men. Marion used Pride, Inc., as a springboard to a seat on the DC School Board, City Council and Mayor for Life!

Pride was the brainchild of a NE street dude by the name of Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield. Mayfield’s childhood friend Clarence Booker was shot and killed by a white police officer. His crime, he had stolen a pack of cookies on the wrong side of the tracks. In a brief chase and confrontation with the police officer, his life ended.

Booker was unarmed (Ferguson/Michael Brown). Mayfield and Booker were both from my old neighborhood, a NE housing project called Parkside. Thanks to a grant given to the DC Recreation Department by UPO to hire additional Roving Leaders, I was hired by the department to work on the staff of the Youth Gang Task Force.

I was assigned to the scene of the crime to help quell the violence that might result from this senseless shooting of a black teenager. There was an outcry of racism because of the recent brutality directed by the DC Police Department against the black community. The federal government intervened and made a deal with Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield to provide job training for unemployed black youth. Pride, Inc. was born and the organization hired hundreds of teenagers to clean littered streets in DC. Mayfield was not a learned individual and brought Marion to the table for some direction—before he knew it he was on the outside looking in and Marion Barry never looked back.

Petey Greene and I were very territorial when it came to our hometown. H. Rap Brown won us over with his down to earth personality but when we encountered Marion it was like ships passing in the night.

Marion went on to become a three term City Councilman. While serving in March 1977 he was shot as a group of Hanifi Muslims took over the District Building. He lived to tell about it. Against all odds, Barry went on to become a two term mayor in the Nation’s Capital. In 1984 Barry gave the presidential nomination speech for civil rights leader Jesse Jackson at the Democratic National Convention.

There are people in the media who are often heard saying, “You either loved Marion or you hated him, there was no middle ground.” I beg to differ, I didn’t love Marion but I did not hate him either. He was a bright individual with a hard head that would not listen to sound advice. The media people who thought they knew Marion didn’t have a clue. He used them and beat them like a drum. He had them thinking that they had the inside story or scoop over one of their colleagues by remembering their first names.

Marion knew that local DC reporters such as Karen Gray Houston, Tom Sherwood, Pat Collins, Joe Madison, Maureen Bunyan, Courtland Milloy and Bruce Johnson had no clue about the black community. He knew these media types only became experts on the black community after they became columnist and television/radio personalities. Marion had the upper hand because all of them followed him into DC.

In 1990, Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room in NW DC. This later became known as “The Bitch Set Me Up” heard around the world. The media “know-it-alls” had no clue of the upcoming sting.

The irony is that he was forewarned by yours truly. In the summer of 1989 I ran into the only guy in his entourage that I think knew the definition of integrity and loyalty. Officer William Stays was his Driver/Security Guard and a class act. He had the Mayor’s back.

Officer Stays was sitting in the car in the Faces Restaurant parking lot on that summer evening when I approached him. Faces was where the so-called “in-crowd” hung out during the week and weekends to escape the rigors of the business world and politics. You could always find Marion there with members of his inner-circle. I asked Officer Stays to go and tell Marion I needed to see him in the parking lot right away. Stays never asked, “What was so important” He just when in and brought Marion back out with him.

I told Marion that there was a FBI sting being organized to catch him in a compromising position and I thought it was best for him to step back for a moment.

The next words out of his mouth, 25 years later still have me shaking my head.

He said, “Harold I appreciate your concern but I got my bases covered.” As he walked back into the restaurant I went over to Officer Stays who was standing outside of the car. It was then I told him about my concerns and Marion’s response, he just shook his head and said, ‘Harold what else can you do?’ We shook hands and said “Good night” and six months later “The Bitch Set Him Up.”

My “Deep Throat” source was an undercover FBI agent out of Newark, New Jersey. We met on the U Street corridor during the riots and we became close friends. He would later leave the city and become an FBI Director in one of our urban cities (retired).

Marion Barry avoided coming on my radio show “Inside Sports.” I knew his hangouts and the dubious characters he hung out with. Even though we were like passing ships Marion and I shared a lot of moments away from the media spotlight.

He loved sports but he could not play dead. I could beat him with my left hand and the other hand tied behind my back. His tennis instructor was my college roommate and teammate at Winston-Salem State University, the late Dr. Arnold McKnight. He would let me know where he and Marion would be hitting balls and I would show up and beat them both. Marion and I would run into each other at the Hillcrest Heights tennis courts located near his home on Suitland, Road, SE.

Dr. McKnight was also the DC Boxing Commissioner and as you know Marion was a part of the Riddick Bowe championship years. One day Marion and I were at the Hillcrest Tennis Courts hitting some balls just before the second Riddick Bowe vs. Evander Holyfield fight. He started talking about how Bowe was going to take out Holyfield in their rematch. I took the bait because everyone knew he was talking at me.

Riddick Bowe could have easily gone down in boxing history as one of the all time great champions. But he had too many distractions around him (Rock Newman, Marion and Cora Masters, Dick Gregory, Willie Wilson, etc). He had one of the all time great boxing trainers in his corner in Eddie Futch. Riddick Bowe would not train and would not listen. He was overweight. Marion was not aware that I knew all the confusion surrounding Bowe. There was one thing you could count on with Evander Holyfield–he was going to be in boxing shape.

I finally said to Marion, “What do you want to bet man?” His response, “Make it easy on yourself.” I knew Marion loved to gamble, so my response, “Lets bet $1,000.” He said, “Oh no.” I then countered with $500 and again he said “No.” He finally said, “$100” and I said, “Bet.” We shook hands on the deal. To make a long story short, Holyfield beat Bowe and it took me two months to collect my $100 from Marion. But one day I walked into Faces for lunch and there he was. Before I could get over to him he had reached in his pocket and torn off a money order for $100. His parting words to me were “How did you know?” I said, “Inside Sports.” Marion was not a bad guy and I really liked him but his head was always between his legs.

The Washington, DC drug culture is a very small community and Marion’s substance abuse was well known along with members of his inner-circle.

Kids In Trouble, Inc. had Santa’s Helpers with names like, Slippery Jackson, Bob Wayne, Philadelphia Jake, Dog Turner, Zack, Happy, Nook, Cornell. These guys had a laundry list of entertainers, politicians and media personalities with drug abuse problems.

I was not surprised when Marion called WRC TV 4 News Anchor Jim Vance for assistance and advice. Jim had been a main stay when it came to my community endeavors and my tennis partner, but it all came crashing down in 1978. One of my street contacts brought a check to me written by Vance for the drugs. Again, I was not surprised because the word had already filtered down to me. It was not a problem, because none of my guys had ever tried to involve me in their substance abuse activities so I became like the 3 Little Monkeys, “I saw no evil, I spoke no evil and I heard no evil.” My street contact really liked Vance but he said to me and I understood exactly where he was coming from, “Man I cannot tell this brother to step back because I am in business, but I think it would be better coming from you.”

That night I took the check up to TV 4 and waited for my friend to finish the 11:00 news. When he came out of the station I called him over to my car and gave him the check explaining he needed to re-group. He took the check and stopped speaking to me. He didn’t speak to me again until 3 years ago (1978-2010) during a tribute to sportscaster Glenn Harris at Howard University.

It was while he was paying tribute to Glenn that I discovered where his head really was. He thanked Glenn for sticking by him during his trial and tribulations with drugs and had not left him blowing in the wind as some other friend! I could not believe my ears; it finally hit me he was talking about me. His words reminded me of vocalist Nancy Wilson’s classic “Guess Who I Saw Today—I Saw You!” That was the way it hit me!

My thinking at the time was to take the check for the drugs up to the station; I thought I was trying to save the life and career of a dear friend. The death of Marion Barry and his reaching out to Jim Vance has allowed me to get this heavy load off of my shoulders and off of my chest.

As I continue to reflect back, I recall Marion, on the Saturday before he was to start serving his 6 month jail sentence made “Inside Sports” his last media stop. I owe the thanks to my roommate, Dr. Arnold McKnight. McKnight had called me on Friday evening and said, “Marion wants to be on your show tomorrow.” My response, “Bring him on!” I never thought he would show up, but he did.

I started the show the way I did every Saturday. I gave the sports quiz and then turned around to see McKnight and Marion coming into the station. Marion had this big smile on his face and said as he entered the studio “You thought I was not coming didn’t you?” I took a commercial break and thanked him for coming.

When I came out of commercial break and introduced him, the first thing out of his mouth was “There is one thing you can count on when it comes to Harold Bell and that is you are going to get the truth.” When he said that I decided I was not going to chastise him.

When the show ended I wished him and reminded to stay strong and I would keep him in prayer. His last words were, “I wish now that I had listened to you!”

Marion could have been the greatest black politician in the history of Black America, but he would not listen. But in the end—he did it his way.

Harold Bell is the Godfather of Sports Talk radio and television in Washington, DC.  Throughout the mid-sixties, seventies and eighties, Harold embarked upon a relatively new medium–sports talk radio with classic interviews with athletes and sports celebrities.  The show and format became wildly popular. Harold has been an active force fighting for the rights of children for over 40 years with the help of his wife through their charity Kids In Trouble, Inc.   To learn more about Harold Bell visit his official web site The Original Inside

Mayor For Life

Posted in African Americans, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Book Reviews and More with tags , , , , on July 12, 2014 by Gary Johnson

mayor-for-life cover

In Marion Barry’s book, race plays a factor in everything that occurs in America. In “Mayor for Life:  The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.,” you can learn how this politician’s focus on race made him one of the most popular and controversial figures in modern history. The book is chock-full of information contemporary Black households need to know about what can be done with political power.

Barry recounts the times when we were at our zenith in terms of political power. In Washington he’s a Black “icon” and “role model.” Born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper, Barry is the third of 10 children. His father died when he was four years old, and a year later his mother moved the family to Memphis, Tennessee, where her employment prospects appeared better. In his autobiography, Barry has a lot to say about how his life in politics was publicly diminished by institutions like the media and government agents.

Barry said the book helps readers “know me.” “Mayor for Life” shows the impact Barry has had on the District of Columbia. He’s a civil rights activist that adroitly leveraged political power for D.C.’s poor and Black communities. Barry has been at the center of the District’s triumphs and troubles since the 1970s. The 78-year-old politician proudly says that he has dedicated 40 years of his life to public service “always fighting for the people.” Known around the world, Barry served as the second elected mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991, and again as the fourth mayor from 1995 to 1999. He has served on the D.C. Council, representing Ward 8 since 2005.

Reading the book reveals Barry’s having courage, tenacity and vision few Black politicians display. The book illustrates that in no way was Barry colorblind. If President Barack Obama leveraged the power of the presidency toward his people, as Barry did, a nation of Blacks would be dancing in the streets.

Barry helped Blacks develop wealth through government jobs and contracts – Black businesses received 3 percent of D.C. contracts when he entered office and 47 percent when he left. Barry said, “They didn’t want me creating all of these opportunities for Black folks.” His deliberate hiring practices and set-asides for minorities created a generation of Black-owned businesses and the nation’s largest Black middle class. Mayor Barry’s true legacy is Prince George’s County – the nation’s wealthiest majority Black jurisdiction. No other mayor has come close to his achievement in providing jobs for poor young Blacks. The late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson places second on the list. Houston’s Lee Brown comes in third.

The worst longtime Washingtonians are willing to say about Barry is: “He didn’t exercise self-control.” Barry’s personal problems first surfaced in 1983, when he was accused of using cocaine at a nightclub party. The culmination of a series of embarrassing incidents was an FBI sting that caught Barry on a videotape smoking crack cocaine at the Vista Hotel. At his 1990 trial, Barry was only convicted of one of the 14 charges pending against him. One juror has been recorded saying: “I believe the government was out to get Marion Barry.”

Call him “a rascal” or “champion for the race” Barry deserves credit for his purposeful and single-minded quest of “doing what’s right for Black Americans.” The 324-page book published by Simon & Schuster is squarely aimed at Black readers. Barry makes no apology for that, addressing Whites at the end of the book: “I’m Black, and my life has been about uplifting Black folks.”

Howard University 1991 journalism graduate Omar Tyree, a New York Times best-selling author, penned the book with Barry. Like Barry, Tyree said the book was written for Black people, many of whom benefited economically from city contracts and summer jobs during Barry’s time in office. The “big payback” would be for Barry and Tyree to experience gigantic book sales. The book’s hardcover price runs about $20. Hopefully, Barry and Tyree will sell millions of copies so “the Mayor” can go fishing.

William Reed William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the

More Trouble for Kwame

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , , , on August 15, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Christine Beatty and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Lies, Sex, Nepotism and Corruption. Welcome to the Kwame Kilpatrick administration. It appears that Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is trying his best to win the title “Most Embarrassing Mayor of the Year” award. Whew! This brother is a piece of work.

Today, August 15, 2008, a Detroit judge ruled that there’s enough evidence for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to stand trial on two felony assault charges stemming from a confrontation with two investigators.

The investigators testified that an angry Kilpatrick shoved one of them into the other and made racial remarks while they were trying to deliver a subpoena in the mayor’s perjury case to a Kilpatrick friend last month.

This comes on the heels of Kwame violating his probation when he crossed the border and entered Canada to make a speech. They mayor reportedly has been directed to wear a very unfashionable ankle bracelet.

Then there’s the court filing earlier this month that the mayor’s wife opened a can of “whoop ass” on a woman at a party. According to the woman who was assaulted she and a friend were dancing at a party at the Manoogian Mansion when she was hit by Carlita Kilpatrick, the wife of the mayor.

And who can forget the thousands of sexually explicit text messages exchanged by the mayor and his ex-Chief of Staff and paramour Christine Beatty published by the Detroit Free Press newspaper. Kilpatrick, who has characterized himself as a strong family man dedicated to his wife and three young sons, had repeatedly and vehemently denied an affair with Beatty in public and under oath. (I can understand why he would not want people to know about this). However, if you read the text messages between Kilpatrick and Beatty it is clear that this “ho in a suit” was hittin’ it every chance he got. Beatty, too, denied an affair — 10 times on the witness stand in a whistle blower trial last August but the text messages paint a different picture.

“I’m madly in love with you,” Kilpatrick wrote in one message. “I hope you feel that way for a long time,” Beatty replied to the mayor. “In case you haven’t noticed, I am madly in love with you, too!”

Another text reflected the following from Kilpatrick to Beatty: “I’ve been dreaming all day about having you all to myself for 3 days. Relaxing, laughing, talking, sleeping and making love.”

In last summer’s trial, Walt Harris, a former police officer who had worked on Kilpatrick’s security team, testified that after driving the mayor to Beatty’s house late at night, he and his partner wondered if they would have to shoot Lou Beatty, (Christine Beatty’s husband) if he showed up.

Has there been a big city mayor as stupid and corrupt as Kwame Kilpatrick? Don’t even say Marion Barry. The only thing these guys had in common were women, specifically sex with women other than their wives. That’s about where the similarities stop.

Mayor Barry’s administration was relatively scandal free. You can’t say that about Kwame.

Kwame Kilpatrick was charged with eight felonies and Beatty with seven. They are: perjury, conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. Say what you want about Marion Barry, his government never had the kind of corruption that the Kilpatrick administration has had in his seven years in office. You really don’t get a sense of any of this drama when you visit the mayor’s MySpace page. (Did you say the mayor’s MySpace page?)

I’m not from Detroit, I’m from D.C. My boy and fellow blogger Brandon Whitney from Homeland Colors is from Detroit. I’d like to get Brandon’s “take” on Mayor Kwame as well as the perspective other folks hail from the Motor City.

Despite all of this, Kwame Kilpatrick is still the mayor of Detroit and is determined to serve the rest of his term.

Gary Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.”

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