Archive for Mayor For Life

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

MarionBarry

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,  www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.

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Remembering Marion Barry

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics with tags , , on November 23, 2014 by Gary Johnson

Marion Barry Headshot

By Gary A. Johnson

Over the next few days, weeks, months and years, a lot will be written about the life and times of Marion Barry, Jr., who passed away this morning in Washington, DC at the age of 78.  As a native Washingtonian who grew up in the city and lived in the city as an adult, I am familiar with the politics in this town.

Many people will write and tell stories about Marion Barry.  I met Marion Barry a couple of times at public functions.  I did not know him, but I feel comfortable saying that Marion Barry was arguably the most powerful local politician of his generation.  He arrived in this town in 1965 and made an immediate connection with the community.  He was a community activist, he served on the School Board and later in life, he became a household name as the mayor of the most powerful city in the world.  Barry had a high-profile personal life and his drug arrest which was captured on video showing him smoking crack cocaine gave him international notoriety.

marion-barry-book.w490.h645.

I am fortunate to get invited to a variety of functions in this town.  I was present at one of Marion Barry’s last public appearances two months ago at Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant in downtown DC.  Ben’s was hosting a booking signing for Barry’s recently published book, “Mayor for Life.”  I videotaped the former mayor addressing the crowd outside of Ben’s.  Barry was frail but his voice was strong.  In recent years he suffered from a variety of health problems including diabetes, prostate cancer and kidney ailments.  In the video below Marion Barry talked about his recovery from his health challenges, his love for the city of Washington and how you should live your life while here on earth.

What are your memories of Marion Barry, Jr?

GJohnson Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In America.com a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In America.com Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.To learn more about Gary click here.

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 BaileyGroup.org

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