“Marion, You Were on the Front Page Fifteen Days Straight”

By Jack Limpert

Ben Bradlee and Marion Barry died a month apart. Bradlee, 93, the longtime editor of the Washington Post, was remembered on October 29 at a crowded Washington National Cathedral service that started at 11 a.m and ended at 1:10 p.m. Barry, 78, elected D.C. mayor four times, will be remembered next week at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and it’ll be a surprise if his service doesn’t match Bradlee’s in length and exceed it in celebration.

Barry always was great copy in the Washington Post and at the Washingtonian we wrote often about Bradlee—way too much, he said. I always responded that we tried to cover the Post the same way the Post covered the White House.

Here’s a “Hotline” item from the November 1979 Washingtonian:

To stroke advertisers, the Post each fall hosts a luncheon at which businessmen get to rub elbows with editors and provide “input” as to what the newspaper should or should not be doing. The 1979 fete included for the first time “community leaders”—such names as Mayor Marion Barry, school board members, and prominent ministers. The result: name-calling disaster.

Instead of the expected genteel questioning, Barry and others zeroed in on Post coverage of black affairs. The mayor complained loudly of Post stories about the District Building. Post executive editor Ben Bradlee replied that he had replaced one white reporter there with a black reporter, what more did the mayor want?

Barry complained about coverage “in general.” Bradlee’s famed temper began to fray. “Marion,” he said, “what are you talking about? When you were in Africa, you were on the front page fifteen days straight.”

One person present kept his eyes on Bradlee during the melee. “I’ll bet,” the observer said, “he went home and had four stiff scotches.”
Update on memorial events for Marion Barry:

Barry, a D.C. Council member when he died Sunday at 78, will lie in repose at the John A. Wilson Building for 24 hours starting 9 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4. His casket will be received in a brief ceremony to which all of the council’s past and current members have been invited.

On Friday, Dec. 5, his casket will leave the Wilson Building at 10 a.m. and will be taken throughout the city in a motorcade set to visit all eight of the city’s electoral wards. The route was not finalized Wednesday but is expected to be publicized in advance.

At 3 p.m., the motorcade is set to arrive at Temple of Praise on Southern Avenue SE in Barry’s Ward 8, one of several congregations he had frequented in recent years. There, a three-hour musical and video tribute will ensue, to be followed at 6 p.m. by a three-hour community memorial service.

The centerpiece of the send-off will be a public memorial service and celebration the following day at the convention center, which is expected to attract tens of thousands of mourners and feature a lengthy program of speakers and music.

—From the 11/27/14 Washington Post




  1. Mayor Barry brought some of the image of an African “ruler” back home to DC. In his office in the old District Building, he had a huge portrait of himself. As you entered his office, you would see him at his desk, facing you, with the gigantic portrait behind him, just like some third world potentate. And when he would wear African garb, it all seemed to fit. To say that he was “colorful” would be understatement.

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