News & Politics

Former DC Mayor Marion Barry Is Writing a Memoir

The Ward 8 DC council member says the book will address his legacy.

Marion Barry in 2012. Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Former mayor and current Ward 8 City Council member
Marion Barry is writing a memoir, which he says will address his legacy. In a television interview
today at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, he said he has finished the outline of 22 chapters.
In addition to tracing his life from growing up poor in the South and becoming a civil
rights activist and a successful politician, the book will also address lowest points,
such as his drug addiction. When asked how he’ll deal with the episode of his life
containing the “bitch set me up” incident, he replied, “One chapter,” then took a
long pause and added, “Maybe two.”

The “bitch” comment is what Barry was recorded saying to FBI agents and DC Police
when they arrested him in 1990 for crack cocaine use and possession at the Vista Hotel.
At the time he was with a girlfriend,
Rasheeda Moore, who had become an FBI informant. He was also in his third term as mayor. He was
sentenced to six months in prison and lost reelection, but made a comeback in 1995,
when he was elected to a fourth term. He’s been the Ward 8 council member since 2004.

In the interview for
The Q&A Cafe, which airs on the District Cable Network, I asked Barry about racism in the city
and whether he considered himself racist. He said he did not. I mentioned derogatory
comments he made about Asian business owners back in April. At the time he said, “We’ve
got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty
shops.” I asked if those comments were racist. Barry said no. He did not take back
the comment, but said it was misquoted and taken out of context.

Barry said he will be candid in the book. Still, he said, there are some who will
never believe him because people either love him or hate him, that there’s no in-between.
He hopes to have the memoir out next year. The proposed “legacy book,” as he calls
it, would be published by Strebor Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, according
to Strebor’s publisher.