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Memorializing Marion Barry in a city still divided over his legacy — or oblivious to it

Jae Alan

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Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post

In the digital age, will a statue outlast a search engine?

That’s the question facing the guardians of the uniquely complicated legacy of former D.C. mayor Marion Barry, who veered between dominance and disgrace in a remarkable half-century political career.

Two years after Barry’s death at 78, his partisans in the nation’s capital just unveiled a proposed design for a life-size statue to be erected outside city hall, one of the public totems — from street art to street names — they hope will cement his place in the Washington pantheon for generations to come. They want to steer the memory of a fast-changing city toward the brighter chapters of the Barry Chronicles, his years as a civil rights hero and champion of the poor.

But when the city’s many newcomers type “Marion Barry” into their phones, they get the dark part. Google’s second hit is a newspaper headline: “Barry Arrested on Cocaine Charges.” The first is his Wikipedia entry, where the 1990 arrest comes in the second paragraph.

Merrick Malone, a developer who was Barry’s deputy mayor for economic development, rejects the caricature of Barry as a late-night punchline.

“I know there are people who want to dwell on his misdeeds and his flaws, but he was frankly a brilliant person who gave up a lot of his career on behalf of others,” Malone said. “We do need a dedicated effort to remind people that there is reason we should remember him positively.”

That effort began in earnest last week with a ceremony at the Wilson Building, where the proposed statue was unveiled. Cora Masters Barry, the mayor’s fourth wife and the chief keeper of his reputation, nodded approvingly at the portrayal of Barry as boldly astride a map of the District, one arm raised, a snappy fedora on his head.

She liked the likeness. But the hat? No so much.

Read full story @ The Washington Post

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Anacostia Events

Jazz Brunch featuring Karen Lovejoy March 11, 3-5PM FREE

Jae Alan

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In performance the Lovejoy name rings true. Her warm stage presence and harmonious tone resonates a kind of joy that leaves the music always hopeful. Karen knows that the blues is an integral part of jazz and will frequently add a twist of down home blues to her repertoire. Lovejoy has produced a number of original tunes including the title cut for the groups latest CD, Spellbound.
Have brunch at Capitol Hill Crabcakes in Anacostia Arts Center then enjoy the music for free!

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Anacostia News

Harold Little – East of the River

Jae Alan

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Anacostia News

Hundreds gather at Frederick Douglass home for bicentennial

Jae Alan

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WASHINGTON — The grand bicentennial kickoff on Saturday at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in historic Anacostia in Washington, D.C., drew more than 300 guests to the formal ceremony, with hundreds more visiting during the Presidents Day weekend to celebrate the former slave turned statesman, journalist and activist.

During his keynote address, Kenneth B. Morris Jr., the third great-grandson of Frederick Douglass and co-founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, announced the yearlong distribution of 1 million free hardcover copies of the bicentennial edition of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” in honor of Douglass’ 200th birthday. (http://www.fd2018.org/)

“We’re going to make sure that Frederick Douglass inspires,” noted Morris. “We’re living at a time when we need the words of Frederick Douglass. We need the unifying spirit of the great abolitionist.”

Democratic Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the District of Columbia, as a third-generation Washingtonian reflected fondly on the advocacy of “The Lion of Anacostia.”

“Frederick Douglass was so local that he is current,” said the congresswoman. “When a man’s words and actions survive him for 200 years, he becomes immortal — and you spend an entire year, as we will, dedicated to the immortal life and legacy of Frederick Douglass.”

The words of the legendary orator roused the audience to sustained applause when the student winners of the 2017 Frederick Douglass Oratorical Contest presented powerful speech excerpts during the ceremony.

Chase McClure recited “I Speak to You as an American Citizen,” Aneesh Mandapati delivered “The Right to Criticize American Institutions” and Silas Montgomery recounted “I Denounce the So-Called Emancipation as a Tremendous Fraud.”

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