Marion Barry Funeral : Resilient ex-mayor of Washington, eulogized as ‘freedom fighter’

Marion Barry Funeral : Resilient ex-mayor of Washington, eulogized as 'freedom fighter'

Marion Barry Funeral : Local and national political leaders, prominent clergy and ordinary Washingtonians who got their first jobs as a result of Marion Barry’s programs were among the thousands who gathered Saturday to say goodbye to the man dubbed “Mayor for Life.”

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“He never stopped working. He never stopped serving … and that’s why the people loved him,” said civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, who delivered Barry’s eulogy.

“His name is on the honor roll of freedom fighters,” said Jackson. “The man helped emancipate Washington.”

The four-hour event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center marked the third and final day of memorial services for Barry, who remained a popular politician despite a crack cocaine conviction in 1990 and other scandals.

“Marion Barry understood that our lives are marked by sin, as well as virtues,” said Rev. Willie Wilson, who made opening remarks following a public viewing on Saturday morning.

Barry, 78, died on Nov. 23 due to complications from heart problems. He was a city councilman when he died, representing impoverished Ward 8.

When Barry first became mayor, he focused resources on poor neighborhoods, government contracts for black businesses and jobs on the city payroll.

“I grew up on Marion Barry. I was able to see his effect on Washington from my early years,” said Yusef Bey, 63, a Washington native who traveled from Baltimore for Saturday’s memorial. “I love the man and his work. He was an example for humanity – what can be done.”

Washington’s current mayor, Vincent Gray, credited Barry with helping to build a black middle class and put the city’s finances under control.