The Barry Statue is All D.C.

It’s a few short months away, but this totally D.C. event won’t have any trouble attracting attention. The attention will, I’m quite sure, not be limited to national recognition. The unveiling will merit global notice.

I am of course referring to the work which is now being constructed by master sculptor Steven Weitzman.

Have no doubt, the statue of Marion Barry will be expertly crafted by Weitzman.

If you seek to get a preview of the excellence of his work, just go down to the visitor center on Capitol Hill and view the ideal likeness of Frederick Douglass that Weitzman created. The statue of Douglass is a magnificent beauty.

It took a long time for D.C. to be included. We were excluded from having one of our own until Jack Evans got the local funding necessary and Nancy Pelosi made it happen.

At the unveiling of the Douglass statue in 2014, everybody was there to celebrate: Vice President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House John Boehner, Majority Leader Harry Reid, even Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The joyous occasion was seriously marred by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton never speaking the name of the sculptor, Steven Weitzman. This lack of acknowledgment and, more important, gratitude was appalling and inexcusable.

I’m sure this won’t be allowed to occur on March 6 of next year.

On that day, a statue of Marion Barry will be placed in front of our city hall, the John A. Wilson Building. March 6 was selected because it is Marion Barry’s birthday. This is an individual with legions of supporters and an equal number of detractors.

No one who ever lived here didn’t have an opinion concerning Marion Barry.

He was first elected in 1971 to a seat on the District school board. The members of that body then chose him to be president of the board. In the first election after limited Home Rule was enacted in 1974, he was elected citywide as an at-large Council member.

In 1978, he beat the incumbent mayor, Walter Washington, and the chairman of the Council, Sterling Tucker, to become mayor. He was easily reelected in 1982 and 1986. And then, after a six-month jail sentence for drug possession, he once again was elected mayor in 1994. When he died in 2014, he held the office of Ward 8 Council member.

Many believe that Marion Barry does not deserve this honor. Many believe that this special place should not be reserved for him. The controversy and debate will go on now and probably forever.

But, undeniably, Marion Barry is D.C.’s own. The majority of D.C. representatives want him to have a permanent and prominent presence.

So it will be.

Political analyst and Georgetowner columnist Mark Plotkin is a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a contributor to Reach him at


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