This Saturday, in front of the John A. Wilson Building, former D.C. “Mayor For Life” Marion Barry once again made history. An 8-foot-tall, bronze statue of Barry by Maryland-based sculptor Steven Weitzman was revealed. According to the Washington Post, this is the first permanent public honor the District has given Barry and one of only three full-body statues in the city of African Americans.
Barry served as mayor for four terms and was on the D.C. Council for 16 years. In 2015, Bowser named a summer jobs program after him. The newly debuted statue cost $300,000, commissioned by the Executive Office of the Mayor (EOM) in partnership with the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) and the Marion Barry Commission.
At the unveiling event, Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “Some time after Martin Luther King had a dream, and before Barack Obama brought us hope, it was Marion Barry who brought opportunity to Washington, D.C. ... He taught us that as long as you’re waking up on this Earth, there can be a comeback.”
Not everyone was pleased by the statue, though. Former D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams said at an event in George Washington University, “The man flew the city into the side of a mountain and he gets a statue. I rebuilt the city—come on.”
He later added, “He deserves one because of his work in civil rights. He stood for the reversal of 60 years of discrimination at the federal level and at the city level ... and stood for self determination for the city.”
Mr. Barry was a larger than life figure. He gave hope to those who had lost it and created #PathwaystotheMiddleClass for many Washingtonians. With this statue, we are preserving a tremendous part of #DC’s history, and honoring our #MayorforLife, Marion Barry.#MarionBarryStatue pic.twitter.com/9m3EM7hI0o— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) March 4, 2018
Chuck Brown’s “Bustin Loose” on the sound system, at a Marion Barry statue dedication. This is one Ben’s half smoke short of the most District moment ever! pic.twitter.com/xadlXC0dJF— Council of DC (@councilofdc) March 3, 2018
Today is truly an exciting day for the people of the District of Columbia. Marion Barry is the first 20th century District leader to be honored with a statue and the first African American to honored on Pennsylvania Avenue NW— Phil Mendelson (@ChmnMendelson) March 3, 2018
Former Mayor Tony Williams just now, on Marion Barry statue: “The man flew the city into the side of a mountain and he gets a statue. I rebuilt the city - come on.” (#williamslegacy event at GWU) pic.twitter.com/zUkBcqBYf1— Ally Schweitzer (@allyschweitzer) March 1, 2018
• Still ‘bigger than life’: D.C. unveils bronze statue honoring former mayor Marion Barry [The Washington Post]