Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry Jr. Was Both Admired and Reviled

D.C. council member and former mayor Marion Barry speaks in Washington, D.C. in 2010. (Photo: Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)
D.C. council member and former mayor Marion Barry speaks in Washington, D.C. in 2010.
(Photo: Tim Sloan, AFP/Getty Images)

Marion Barry Jr., a fiery civil rights activist who rose to prominence as a mayor of Washington, D.C., only to fall in disgrace when he was arrested for smoking crack cocaine, died early Sunday morning. He was 78 years old.

His death was announced in a statement released by the family.

No cause of death was given, but Barry had been in and out of the hospital for the last year. He had a history of health problems that included a battle with prostate cancer in the 1990s, a kidney transplant in 2009 and a decades-long struggle with diabetes. He’d even survived a bullet wound in a City Hall shootout in 1978.

His spokeswoman, LaToya Foster, said he collapsed outside his home, the Associated Press reported.

The proclaimed “mayor for life” had been a popular leader and one of D.C.’s most influential politicians for almost 50 years. He had a colorful and controversial life that included drug use, failure to pay his federal income taxes and getting shot in the heart in a hostage standoff.

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Source: USA Today | Marisol Bello