News & Politics

Marion Barry Will Finally Get a Gravestone—Two Years After His Death

Photograph by Hong Le.

This story has been updated.

The gravesite of former DC Mayor Marion Barry will finally get a stone on November 23, exactly two years after his death, the Barry family says. Barry, who died in 2014, is interred at Congressional Cemetery, but since his burial, his plot has been marked only by a laminated card mounted on a short, metal post.

Barry died before finalizing plans for his burial, leaving the particulars of his death to his family, led by his estranged wife, Cora Masters Barry. In August 2015, Washingtonian reported the family had still not settled on a design for a headstone. Barry’s son, Marion Christopher Barry, died in August from a drug overdose.

Barry, the District’s “Mayor for Life,” served four terms as mayor and was the council member for Ward 8 when he passed away from cardiac arrest following a brief hospitalization. His grave sits on a hill at Congressional Cemetery overlooking the Anacostia neighborhood, and has reportedly inspired the sale of 20 nearby plots to people who want to be buried near him.

According to an invitation sent by Masters Barry, a monument to the late mayor will be unveiled in a private ceremony at 10 AM on November 23, with a reception to follow at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which in 2014 hosted a public memorial for the late politician that drew thousands of mourners.

UPDATE, 11/1: The unveiling of Barry’s monument took two years because of delays in the design process, according to Raymone Bain, a spokeswoman for his family. An original design selected about six months after Barry’s death had to be canceled when it did not conform with Congressional Cemetery’s design standards, prompting the Barry family—led by Cora Masters Barry and Marion Christopher Barry—to start over with a new architect.

Clarification: A previous version of this story reported that Barry died before placing a deposit for his burial plot. A spokesperson for his family says he paid for the plot.

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.