News & Politics

Marion Barry’s Funeral Will Last Three Days

Barry is getting a huge sendoff. Here's what you need to know about the memorial services for the Mayor for Life, and how they'll affect traffic.

Photograph by Flickr user Tom Bridge.

As promised by his spokeswoman just hours after he died, Marion Barry‘s funeral will be “big, epic, monumental, just the way he liked it.” It kicks off Thursday morning with the remains of the District’s Mayor for Life lying in repose in the John A. Wilson Building for 24 hours, the first stage of a three-day memorial concluding Saturday with a massive public sendoff.

Barry’s closed-casket visitation will begin tomorrow at 8:30 AM when his remains and his family arrive at the Wilson Building. Following a ceremony led by current Mayor Vince Gray and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, the public will be let in to view Barry from 9 AM to midnight, and again from 6 to 9 AM on Friday.

City officials are expecting huge lines for the vigil, and will close down Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest, between 12th and 14th streets from 4 AM Thursday to 10:30 AM Friday.

Barry’s body will leave the Wilson Building at 9:30 on Friday morning and be taken by motorcade to Temple of Praise at 700 Southern Avenue, Southeast, in Ward 8. The motorcade will last three hours and travel through the other seven wards, causing rolling street closures, before arriving at the church where Barry was a congregant. Temple of Praise will hold an additional public viewing from 1 to 6 PM, followed by a service at 7.

The final public viewing and celebration service will start 7 AM Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and is scheduled to run until 3 PM. Barry’s family has not confirmed who will be speaking, performing, or officiating at the service, although former Mayor Sharon Pratt—who succeeded Barry as mayor following his 1990 drug arrest, only to be defeated by him four years later—has confirmed she will attend. During the sendoff, L Street, Northwest, will be closed between Seventh and Ninth streets, with other possible closures around the convention center. Again, the crowd is expected to be much larger than the 9,000 who turned out in May 2012 for Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown‘s public memorial.

Barry will be buried at Congressional Cemetery in a private service Saturday afternoon.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.