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Rep. John Lewis on Passing of Marion Barry

November 24, 2014
Press Release

"I was sorry to learn early this morning that Ward 8 Councilman and four-term Mayor of Washington D.C. Marion S. Barry Jr. died.  I first met Marion in 1959 in Nashville when we both were some of the first participants in the non-violent workshops held in the basement of First Baptist Church and Clark Memorial United Methodist Church led by the Rev. James Lawson. 

"Marion had been a leader and organizer of student protests before he even came to Nashville at Lemoyne Owens College in Memphis.  In the spring of 1960 he was elected the first chairman of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee because he was smart, articulate, impressive, committed to the philosophy and discipline of non-violence, and a bit more experienced in leadership than those of us who were undergraduates. He had come to Nashville to study chemistry on the graduate level at  Fisk. As chairman, he testified on behalf of the students and the movement before the Democratic and Republican conventions in 1960.

"Ultimately, he left the deep South and moved to Washington where he became the face of progressive change. He transformed D.C. from a jurisdiction run by the federal government into a self-governing city and a mecca for black politicians, government administrators, businessmen and intellectuals. He used his influence and power to lay the foundation for the thriving, metropolitan community people flock to today.

"Marion Barry was always hopeful, always optimistic. He was committed to the cause of civil rights and social justice, and he was committed to the people of Washington, DC.  He loved the people, and the people loved him. Marion Barry was a dynamic leader, a wonderful friend, and a strategic master who did all he could to serve the people of the District of Columbia. He will be deeply missed.".