Marion Barry, former mayor and current council member of Washington, D.C., will go down in history less for his accomplishments as one of the most popular politicians ever in the District, but for his lowest moment, when he was busted for smoking crack in an FBI sting in the early 1990s, declaring, “B***h set me up.”
Now Barry, 78, has told his own story, with the help of bestselling author Omar Tyree Jr., and he’s using the pages as a vehicle to settle old scores, according to reviews of the book, called Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr.
About his drug bust and conviction that sent him to jail for six months, Barry said it was motivated by racism.
He said the FBI sting was done because, “They didn’t want me creating all of these opportunities for Black folks. So when the FBI set me up at the Vista, they were really trying to kill me. . . . The war to reclaim Washington for white people had been declared.”
Barry doesn’t shy away from his addictions, describing in detail the moment he got hooked on cocaine in the 1980s, when he was at a party. A woman offered him some coke, telling him it made her “hot.”
“I told myself, what the hell? Why not?” he says in the book.
When she put the line of cocaine on a business card, he screwed it up the first time.
“I exhaled instead of inhaled and blew all of the powder off the card,” he writes. But when he got it right the second time, it “felt like I had ejaculated,” Barry writes. “The cocaine was a powerful stimulant that went straight to my penis.” He proceeded to have sex with the woman.
“From that point on, you chase that same high and sex that you felt the first time,” he writes.
But Barry shocked the world when he was re-elected after he got out of jail, proving how much he was loved—especially by Washington’s Black community.
About race, Barry says this at the end of his book: “Well, let me tell you. I’m Black, and my life has been about uplifting Black folks.”
A profile of Barry in the New York Times described how disturbed the council member is by the gentrification in his city, which has dropped from 70 percent Black in the 1970s, to just 50.1 percent Black today.
“For Black folks, those cranes mean displacement and gentrification,” Barry said about the ever-present construction cranes in Washington.