|Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. was an American politician who served as the second elected Mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991, and again as the fourth Mayor from 1995 to 1999|
By Sunday afternoon, ten thousand people had signed a petition on Change.org shaming TMZ for emblazoning the death of Marion Barry as “Crack Mayor Dead.” Fair: In terms of public figures, Barry was hardly unique in his substance abuse or philandering. Mayor Jimmy Walker was a near-alcoholic with a string of mistresses, all common knowledge. Nelson Rockefeller’s sex life was an open secret among many (he died in the company of a mistress). Yet neither man’s legacy has been judged on their randier aspects.
And although Barry had his thuggish moments in his earlier days, like many of his, shall we say, comrades, Barry in that period was infused with a sincere Marxist intention—sincere as in adopting the middle name Shepilov, after a Soviet pamphleteer. Violence against the powers that be, including transparent race-baiting in political negotiations, was seen as a necessary step towards liberation. Only presentism can label this as sheer barbarism.
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