For what would have been Marion Barry‘s 79th birthday, Mayor Muriel Bowser is setting the late mayor’s commemorators loose on the District. Bowser announced the members of her Barry memorial commission this morning in Anacostia, with what she says are no limits on what they can recommend to honor him.
Bowser’s commission will have to sort through a list of proposals, including renaming H Street and the University of the District of Columbia after the mayor-for-life. Bowser declined to share any ideas she has for Barry’s memorials.
The commission’s members include Barry’s son (and Ward 8 D.C. Council candidate) Marion C. Barry, widow Cora Masters Barry, and Barry-era City Administrator Michael Rogers. Other commission members include businessman, Park Southern scandal figure, and prolific Bowser campaign donor Phinis Jones; former mayor and former Barry foe Sharon Pratt Kelly; top advisor Beverly Perry; and ex-Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith.
Barry’s son stayed away from campaign talk during a speech about his father—-good news for Bowser, who’s backing another candidate in the April 28 race. After asking the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday” to the late mayor, Masters Barry praised Bowser for continuing Barry’s legacy.
“Muriel was with us that night that Marion died, and I’ll never forget that,” Masters Barry said.
The commission’s recommendations aren’t due for a year, but Barry got a birthday present anyway when the Bowser administration unveiled a new mural of the ex-mayor. Located in an empty lot behind a gate and a government office building that backs up to I-295, it’s not exactly in the most prominent place in Anacostia.
Bowser insists that the mural, created by local artist Jay Coleman, isn’t hidden away at all. The mayor claims that the mural will be seen by “a lot of people” driving on the nearby freeway.
Photo by Will Sommer