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Back to Mayor’s office main pageAccompanying biography of Barry

Mayor Barry announces his decision not to run for public office:
“My Service is a Personal Testament of Triumph,” says Mayor Barry
May 21, 1998




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Government of the District of Columbia

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, May 21, 1998

CONTACT: Linda Wharton Boyd

"My Service is a Personal Testament of Triumph, " Says Mayor Barry

Mayor Marion Barry, Jr, today publicly announced his decision not to run for Mayor of the District of Columbia.

In a speech given today in Council Chambers at One Judiciary Square, N.W., Mayor Barry explained his decision not to seek an unprecedented fifth term as Mayor of the District of Columbia.

"Today, I stand before this city with the support of my family, my pastor, closest friends and loyal supporters announcing one of the most important decision that will mark my public life," said Mayor Barry.

"It is a decision that has to be weighed against the backdrop of personal and professional successes and failures. . . against a backdrop of ups and downs. . against a backdrop of a city that has gained a great deal and has lost even more...against the backdrop of eminent public scrutiny...against the backdrop of a mean- spirited Congress that has sought to break the spirit of a people and recolonize our souls against the backdrop of personal sacrifices both financially and at the expense of family against the burning desire to serve and a decision on how best to serve.

"... I came to serve but not to stay. The call to serve is greater than the call to the Office. There are challenges after the Mayor's seat and, so, I am seeking God's direction as he opens new avenues of service that place me where I go from here. My future isn't certain, buy my quest to serve is unchanged. So I say today, that I will not seek re-election."

Mayor Barry has served more than 40 years in public service -- including four terms as Mayor of Washington, D.C. In 1966, he founded the "Free D.C. Movement," which aimed to bring home rule to the District of Columbia. In 1967, he co-founded Pride, Inc., a nonprofit organization that established businesses in low-income neighborhoods in the city, hired more than 1,000 young men who had previously been unemployed or were ax-offenders or high school dropouts.

In 1971, Mayor Barry ran for the D.C. School Board and won a seat. He remained there until 1974 when he won one of two at-large seats on the Council of the District of Columbia. He was re-elected to the Council in 1976. He then ran for Mayor in 1978 and became the second elected mayor in D.C. history. In 1979, under his guidance, the city achieved limited home rule. The Mayor was re-elected in 1982 and 1986 and in 1994.

Mayor Barry leaves behind a legacy of serving the least, the last and the lost. Among his achievements in the District of Columbia, he can count the following:

  • Helped rebuild the District's downtown
  • Game more than 100,000 young people summer jobs
  • Increased senior citizen involvement and support of their programs
  • Decreased the racism that affects non-whites
  • Provided a catalyst for thousands of jobs for African Americans and others who had been left out
  • Helped ax-offenders make the transition back into the wider society
  • Brought Washington from a sleepy Southern town to a thriving metropolis and a cosmopolitan city
  • Provided an example of inspiration and hope that a person can fall and rise again
  • Fought constantly and tirelessly for home rule and democracy for the District
  • Was a booster for the city; traveled widely, spreading the word about what the city has to offer and worked closely with business leaders to bring increased commerce and recognition to the District, America's First City.

D.C. Office of Communications 441 4th St., N.W., Suite 1100 Washington, D.C. 20001

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