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As it passed by FBI headquarters and the federal courthouse, the motorcade escorting Marion Barry‘s casket this morning saw only a few dozen onlookers with smartphones out. But then, Barry never got much love at those places even when he was alive.
The real action for the Barry processional came, as expected, in the ward he represented for 12 years on the D.C. Council. As the motorcade passed by Anacostia’s Big Chair, the crowds grew thick enough that Barry’s wife Cora Masters Barry and son Christopher Barry walked alongside the hearse to greet mourners. The younger Barry shook so many hands that he ended up running to catch up with the casket. (Heads up, would-be Ward 8 contenders.)
Well-wishers carried printed signs that declared that Barry was “always fighting for the people.”
“He’s dead and he’s still doing good for us!” shouted one man.
The motorcade route was a humbler version of the original plan to visit each ward in the District, but it still managed to pass major landmarks in Barry’s life: his previous homes in the ward, his constituent service office, the Player’s Lounge bar where he made many appearances. Outside her Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, Masters and Christopher Barry stopped and stood in front of light-up display showing Barry’s name.
The processional was light on surprises until the end, when the motorcade detoured into United Medical Center, the hospital where Barry was pronounced dead almost two weeks ago. At the hospital, his casket was transferred into a caisson drawn by two horses and taken the rest of the way down Southern Avenue SE to the Temple of Praise church.
There, Barry’s body was met with dancing and a brass band.
A “community service” for Barry starts tonight at Temple of Praise (700 Southern Ave. SE) at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Barry will be available for public viewing from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a final memorial service from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Photo by Will Sommer