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Former Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry Dies At 78

Marion Barry, a civil rights pioneer who went on to become a polarizing mayor of Washington, D.C. before going to prison on a cocaine charge, died on Sunday at the age of 78.

Barry died at United Medical Center hours after he was released from Howard University Hospital. He had admitted himself to the hospital saying he did not feel well. The District of Columbia’s Medical Examiner’s office ruled his death as due to heart disease, the New York Times reported.

Barry was elected mayor four times in 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1994. He left the mayor’s office in 1999 and went to work as an investment banker, although he was elected to the District of Columbia Council in 2004.

In 1990, he was arrested in a Washington hotel room while smoking crack cocaine and fondling a woman who was not his wife. The arrest was videotaped during an undercover operation. He was sentenced to six months in prison.

The videotape of Barry smoking crack came to be a symbol of the drug epidemic that was ravaging the District at the time. Despite his arrest and his declaration that he was set up, he continued in his role as a political leader and champion for the underclass, the Washington Times reported.

[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Barack Obama” author_title=”President of the United States”]

During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity, and begin to make real the promise of a home rule.


Despite his personal problems, including being suspected in separate incidents of driving under the influence and stalking, he worked to put hundreds of millions into job training and employment programs, as well as senior centers and social welfare endeavors. He was also an ardent supporter of African American-owned businesses, CNN reported.

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