Christopher Barry helped design his father’s memorial but sadly died before it came to fruition. Now his name is etched in stone alongside his father’s – in memoriam.
“It’s so beautiful!” remarked residents at Congressional Cemetery Wednesday evening hours after the private ceremony.
Rev. Willie Wilson from Union Temple Baptist Church presided over an African burial tradition during the morning’s ceremony holding out a clay bowl containing soil from Egypt, from the slave dungeon in Cape Coast, Ghana, and soil from Barry’s gravesite.
“As we pour this into the soul it’s a symbol of the reawakening of all the spirits that go before us,” he said.
Friends and family gathered under a tent all called out the name of Marion Barry: a chemist, a civil rights activist, a freedom fighter, a politician, a humanitarian.
“Marion’s legacy is going to grow,” said his widow Cora Masters. “He’s in the fiber and the DNA in this city.”
Masters called the five-foot memorial a labor of love. The grand headstone to memorialize Marion was made within the guidelines of Congressional Cemetery to include a bench, a carving of his likeness, and several notable quotes including one from Maya Angelou.
“Marion Barry changed America with his unmitigated gall to stand up in the ashes of where he has fallen and came back to win,” Masters said.
A man who battled his demons and overcame personal challenges, some said his flaws endeared him to his city. The people he worked hard for remained loyal.
“He was a person who loved, especially, to uplift those who were on the downside of life who really need an uplift,” said Ward 7 Councilmember-Elect Vincent Gray. “You see what we did for the homeless; people who didn’t have a job - that’s who Marion Barry was.”
“Marion Barry died a wealthy man. He stocked up his treasures in the hearts of the people of the District of Columbia,” said close friend and former D.C. senator Charles Moreland.