Cora Masters Barry has spent a great deal of time since the passing of her husband, former four-term mayor and D.C. Council member Marion S. Barry Jr., trying to keep his legacy alive in the District.
Since his death on Nov. 23, 2014, she has worked with District leaders on such projects as having a statue of his likeness in front of the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest. On Nov. 12, Cora Barry celebrated another milestone when city leaders dedicated the One Judiciary Square Building in Northwest as the Marion S. Barry Jr. Building.
“This is a significant, historic event that is the beginning, not only of telling the story of the contributions of Marion S. Barry Jr., but also of the city,” Cora Barry said. “My husband loved Washington, D.C. and its residents. He would be so honored to know that Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson have honored his legacy in this wonderful way. I want to thank them.”
Michael C. Rogers, who served as the city administrator/deputy mayor for operations under Marion Barry in his final term as mayor, chairs the D.C. Commission to Commemorate and Recognize the Honorable Marion S. Barry, Jr. Presiding over the ceremony, he introduced Bowser as “the other M.B.” before she spoke.
Bowser, who served on the D.C. Council with Marion Barry from 2007-2014, praised her former colleague.
“Mayor Marion Barry embodied that D.C. spirit of never letting a setback become a knockout, and always fought to bring opportunity to our residents,” the mayor said. “Because of his big vision, thousands of young people received the opportunity to succeed with their first job. He created programs that helped residents buy their first homes, expanded access to the middle class for D.C. families, and ensured prosperity was shared among all eight wards. This dedication is a fitting tribute to our Mayor for Life by honoring his legacy and service to the city he loved.”
Marion Barry served as the mayor from 1979-1991 and 1995-1999. He served on the D.C. Council as an at-large member from 1975-1979 and represented Ward 8 from 1993-1995 and 2005-2014.
Cora Barry worked with Mendelson and D.C. Council members to pass the “Marion S. Barry Building Designation Act of 2019” for the renaming.” Bowser signed the bill on April 27.
Cora Barry said the renaming of the One Judiciary Square building had a special meaning because he served his last term as mayor there.
“He did a lot of things while working in that building,” she said. “It was there where he doubled the size of the summer jobs program. He changed the city and empowered the people. He made it possible for many people to be able to buy their homes.”
Cora Barry said in the building’s lobby wall will be a mural reflecting Marion Barry’s life and work.
“It will tell the story of Marion,” she said. “It will showcase the people he interacted with, the places he helped to create such as the convention center and the Capital One Arena and highlight programs such as those benefitting senior citizens and youth he supported.”