Why I'm A Democrat: Marion Barry, Washington's Mayor For Life | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Why I'm A Democrat: Marion Barry, Washington's Mayor For Life

Throughout the Republican National Convention, we asked people in Tampa why they were Republicans.

We're doing the same thing here in Charlotte, N.C. for the Democratic National Convention.

We started by asking Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington, D.C. and current councilman.

He's always been a polarizing and controversial figure in politics.

This is how Jim Vance, a longtime news anchor in Washington, D.C., described him in a 2009 New York Times' profile of Barry:

"Never has someone who has flown so high been brought so low, and someone who was so low gone so high again."

In his youth Barry was an effective champion for the civil rights movement, then he was caught smoking crack in 1990. But he survived to become mayor again and survived again to become a council member. An HBO documentary about his life was aptly titled, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry.

We asked Barry if he remembered when he decided to become a Democrat.

He looked at me as if I was crazy.

"Sure I remember," he said. "It's when I registered to vote, back in Memphis, Tennessee a long time ago. I really got involved with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee when we supported the Freedom Democratic Party in Mississippi and went to the convention in '64 to try to unseat the all-white Democratic party."

I pressed him a little more. If both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party were all-White, why decide to pick up and fight for a change in one and not the other?

"I didn't know anything about all that," he said. "I was just like most people. I voted Democratic ... because we had Democratic senators, Democratic everything. It's as simple as that.

"And I do think that black people ought to be in both parties."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

A Conversation With American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland (Rebroadcast)

Acclaimed ballerina Misty Copeland joined Diane to talk about her remarkable career and how she is challenging physical stereotypes that she says keep ballet stuck in the past.

NPR

Why The World Might Be Running Out Of Cocoa Farmers

West African cocoa farmers earn less than $1 a day. Those low wages could jeopardize the future of chocolate labor, as young farmers find better opportunities to earn a living, a new report warns.
NPR

A Conservative Firebrand From The Start, Ted Cruz Always Had A Plan

Long before Cruz was the Texas senator commandeering the Senate floor, he was a teenager reciting conservative, free-market ideology.
NPR

Pilot In Solar-Powered Plane Sets Aviation Record

André Borschberg, flying Solar Impulse 2, set a new record of 120 hours in the cockpit on a journey from Japan to Hawaii.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.