Monday, November 24, 2014

In Memory of Marion Barry

Early yesterday morning, Marion Barry, D.C. City Councilmember and former mayor, passed away at the age of 78.

We remember him with these archival highlights:

Giant Food Chairman Izzy Cohen and
Mayor Marion Barry, opening of Giant Food,
Eighth and O Streets, NW, 1979
JHSGW Collection/
Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation
When JHSGW interviewed Barry in 2006 as part of an oral history project documenting the history of Giant Food, he spoke about the 1979 opening of the Giant store at Eighth & O Streets, NW, and its significance in rebuilding the city:

“As you can imagine, the city had been devastated with the disorders of ‘68.  Things were burned down, it was a shell of a city, people were depressed, and jobs had been lost from these establishments.  So we were anxious to get some consumer goods . . . and my recollection, I don’t even know where the closest Safeway was, but it certainly wasn’t around that area of D.C.  And we were very ecstatic about that store [Giant at Eighth & O] being opened.”

These two items are from the collection of Janice Eichhorn, an activist for Washington, D.C.'s political rights. Eichhorn worked on Barry's staff starting with his 1978 mayorial campaign until 1992, when she retired from her position as a senior policy analyst.

Her papers were contributed to our archives by her sister in 2011.

Bumper sticker from first mayorial campaign, 1978
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Diane Liebert.
"Best wishes to a very dear friend Jan Eichhorn
Marion Barry 7-7-81"
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Diane Liebert.

Fred Kolker (wearing hat) and Mayor Marion Barry (right),
renaming Florida Avenue Market to Capital City Market
as part of planned market restoration, 1984
JHSGW Collections. Gift of Brenda Pascal.

In a 2010 oral history recorded by Glenn Richter, Ruth Newman, longtime leader of D.C.'s Soviet Jewry movement, recalled seeing Barry at the 1987 Freedom Sunday March for Soviet Jewry on the National Mall:

When we were...marching down Constitution Avenue, out of nowhere came the then Mayor of the City of Washington, Marion Barry. He said, "Washington," [upon seeing] our banner -- 'Washington Committee for Soviet Jewry.' He said, "That's where I belong,” and all of a sudden he puts himself between those of us who were carrying the banner. He walked a couple of blocks with us and then he saw somebody else he knew and off he went.

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