The Four Recommendations to “Commemorate and Recognize the Honorable Marion S. Barry, Jr.”


From the Mayor’s Office:

“On the one-year anniversary of the death of former DC Mayor Marion S. Barry, Jr., Mayor Muriel Bowser announced recommendations from the D.C. Commission to Commemorate and Recognize the Honorable Marion S. Barry, Jr.  The Commission was tasked with identifying ways to honor the late Mayor of the District – often referred to as ‘Mayor for Life.”

The recommendations include: commissioning a bust or statue in front of the John A. Wilson Building, renaming Good Hope Road, renaming Frank W. Ballou Senior High School in Ward 8 where Barry served as the Councilmember until his passing, and naming the new student center at the University of the District of Columbia.  The final recommendations, culled from a list of 30, were developed based on public input solicited during this summer’s public engagement forums.

“Sometime after Martin had a dream and before President Obama gave us hope, Marion Barry provided opportunity,” said Mayor Bowser. “And with these recommendations we will take the first step to rename Good Hope Road after Marion connecting him with Martin in the heart of ward 8. I want to thank the Commission for engaging the public and for going through a thoughtful process.” 

Mayor Barry’s contributions to this city are unparalleled, and I am confident that these recommendations will help us honor his legacy for generations to come.

Earlier in the year, Mayor Bowser renamed the District’s summer youth employment program to the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, and she expanded the program to include 22–24 year-old participants.

The 13-member Commission is comprised of former and current elected officials, businesses community leaders, and family members of the late Marion Barry, Jr.

Find a copy of the Commission’s report HERE.”

40 Comment

  • Accountering

    At least they didn’t try and rename UDC to Marion Barry University, as I saw recommended elsewhere. The kids graduating from there have enough trouble with UDCs reputation as it stands, if you want to rename it MBU, may as well close the doors permanently.

    • I thought Barry was the one who spearheaded opening UDC in the first place?

      I don’t think anyone ridiculous enough to judge someone for going to UDC should be the gauge for whether the school should be named for the politician who spearheaded opening it in the first place.

  • there’s gotta be a weed dispensary named for hizoner, amirite?

  • houseintherear

    No thanks.

  • How about none of the above? This guy made a mockery of public office.

    • also – a rapist, and just generally terrible to women. the road, fine. i understand that there are complicated feelings among longtime and newer washingtonians, and that a lot of people feel he would be owed these memorials. but re-naming ballou and the UDC center is a hard pass imo.

      • Rapist? Please substantiate that rather heavy charge with a link. Also, that isn’t something he was convicted of, in any case.

        • you’re correct that he was never convicted of this, but I’m choosing to believe the women involved. read tom sherwood’s book ‘dream city’ – there’s quite a bit most people don’t know about marion barry.

  • He did a tremendous amount for the city. And for all those transplants commenting, take a walk around DC and tell me how many statues are of men with questionable morals. ALL OF THEM.

    • Do you really want to compare resumes of “Mayor” Barry and some of the other statues around town? Because I’m pretty sure you are going to lose that argument.

      • You are so right. Near judiciary square is a statue of Albert Pike, a professed racist into the 1900s. And you should check out the history behind the name of Chevy Chase circle’s fountain. D.C.’s got a bunch of these.

    • i agree that we have statues of people all over the place who’ve committed equally terrible (or subjectively more terrible) deeds. but i don’t think that’s a strong argument in favor of adding more. and i’m a long-term resident whose grandparents voted for barry in his first run for mayor. just sayin’ it’s not only ‘transplants’ who feel that way.

    • So we just add more statues and images of those with questionable morals? Is this the status quo you want to maintain?

    • As a lifelong Washingtonian, I always shudder when someone belittles the opinions of “transplants” – EVERY resident has a valid opinion.

      That being said, I agree that Mayor Barry did a lot of good for the city, at a time when conditions were absolutely appalling, there was little hope, and few opportunities, particularly for young men of color. However, his story is complicated and he tarnished some of that legacy by mismanagement as Mayor and by succumbing to his personal demons. And he compounded it by his often insensitive, narrow-minded, and racist remarks in later years. He needs to be remembered and commemorated because, like it or not, he means a lot to many DC citizens, yet, we should be cautious in how we choose to memorialize him.

  • Re-name Good Hope Road. Sounds like the least expensive of the lot.

  • I like the statue at the Wilson Building and the student center at UDC ideas.

    I don’t care for bumping someone’s name for someone else so I don’t care for the Ballou idea, unless they were to call it Ballou-Barry HS.

    I also don’t care for losing long-term historic names, so I am not in favor of renaming Good Hope Road, either.

    • anonymouse_dianne

      No one’s going to call it that anyway. Have you ever asked a New Yorker for directions to JFK airport?

      • Not sure what you’re getting at. My entire extended family is from Brooklyn, and not even my (now-deceased) 90-odd year old grandparents called it Idlewild. You’re better off using DCA as a comparison.

        • anonymouse_dianne

          Actually I was thinking of 6th Ave vs Avenue of the Americas but thought more people knew about Idlewild. I lived on W 8th street for three years between 5th and 6th avenue and got terribly confused because the street sign says Avenue of the Americas but everyone who lives there calls it 6th.

  • I recommend another horrible mural with horrendous, vaguely recognizable depictions of the brain-scrambled crackhead who ran the city.

    Seriously though, if there’s going to be another mural of the guy, please please PLEASE let it be done by Aniekan Udofia. As far as I can tell, he’s the *ONLY* muralist in the city who can depict people both realistically (e.g. Marvin Gaye) and non-cheesily (e.g. everything by Byron Peck).

  • How about we rename the Fort Totten Waste Transfer Station? It could be the Marion Barry Putrid Trash Dump.

  • I Like the UDC student center idea best. Something new, meaningful to his political constituency and prominent in a crossroads part of the city. I’ve no issue with Barry’s moral failings; we live in a city honoring a slave holder after all.

    • Please don’t saddle UDC with more embarrassment, their school has a bad enough reputation as is.

    • Maybe a Hall at UDC and a statue, replacing the Pike statue referenced below. Possibly re name Wilson the Wilson Barry school recognizing that each of the men were persons of their times with failings

  • Beyond being an old school corrupt machine politician and a bad manager, it should also be added that he was an opponent of marriage equality and an inconsistent champion of civil rights:

    “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops,” he said in the course of laying out his vision for the ward. “They ought to go. I’ll just say that right now, you know. But we need African American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

    There is certainly some irony/hypocrisy in the DC political establishment’s selective remembrance of his record. Nonetheless, I could really care less, as long as the District doesn’t spend too much money on whatever they name after him.

  • Why not rename Woodrow Wilson to Marion Barry High School (instead of Ballou?) We’d pay tribute to the Mayor for Life and, at the same time, withdraw that endorsement of our 28th President (in light of his racism.)

  • This is like the worst mural ever. Marion looks more like the Nortorois B.I.G as opposed to himself. Maybe the new owner will paint over it.

  • Why not a statue of him riding a free turkey from the annual giveaway?
    Having lived here through his rise to, corruption throughout and fall from power, the only place more fitting for him in such a statue would be under the turkey, preferably in a mound near the rear.

  • andy

    I’m surprised about the Ballou name change. I would have thought the grads would be more attached to the Ballou name.

  • Clearly Muriel is trying to win support from older black residents who gave Barry a free pass for all his misdeeds. I imagine that the sentiments on this blog will likely be different than those of many Ward 6 residents who still idolize Marion Barry for unsubstantial reasons, like starting the summer jobs program. It’s going to be interesting to see how the City Council reacts to this issue.

  • DCA is due for a name change. No one particularly likes the clown it’s named for now.

  • I think renaming Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant would be most appropriate. It’s in Ward 8 but serves the entire city. They could even fund a scratch n’ sniff photo of him in the guidebooks and people would know exactly where to go to see just how much Hizzoner did for the city.

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