Printer Friendly

Marion Barry: The Politics of Race.

Marion Barry: The Politics of Race. Jonathan I. Z. Agronsky. British American Publishing, $21.95. While this book is not a clunker (and it easily could have been, considering how quickly it was written), it succeeds only in the modest goal of recounting Barry's rise and fall-a swell, if overly familiar, story. The shy son of a Mississippi maid abandons his chemistry career to join the civil rights movement, perfects the mau-mauing of whites, exchanges his dashiki for a pin-striped suit, and then scratches backs (and stabs them) to become one of America's most powerful mayors. Now tell me something I don't know. Tell me what made Barry run.

When it comes to Barry the man, Agronsky-like the rest of us-is at a loss to explain fully the power, the charisma, the fundamental detachment. Nevertheless, he does accumulate a remarkable catalog of Barry's callousness toward the public he was elected to serve. Some highlights: * Hazel "Rasheeda" Moore, the paramour used to lure Barry into the Vista sting, submitted a proposal for a $47,000 city contract months late yet had it approved within days. * Barry once threatened to cut funding of the contract unless Moore gave him a blow job. * Restaurateur Hassan Mohammadi and attorney Lloyd Moore, both of whom owned businesses that received city contracts, supplied Barry with cocaine. * Cocaine dealer Lydia Pearson handed Barry cocaine and a job application at the same instant.

Toss in the earlier legal wrangles involving Barry's ex-wife Mary Treadwell and former deputy mayors Alphonse Hill and Ivanhoe Donaldson -all of whom were sentenced to prison for their abuse of the public trust-and a few exhalations of crack seem like nothing. Yet when it came down to it, crack-not corruption or incompetence-was what it took to bring down the mayor.

Though I think the sting stank and the trial was a morality play-two points I wish Agronsky had unambiguously weighed in on-I am glad that Barry is no longer my mayor. A straightforward telling of his actions, which this book provides, certifies that by the end of his reign, Barry's role as mayor-once to protect the poor and disenfranchised of this city-had radically narrowed. Protecting himself and his friends had become a full-time job.

-Jon Cohen
COPYRIGHT 1991 Washington Monthly Company
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Cohen, Jon
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Words:372
Previous Article:Rational Lampoon; finally, P.J. O'Rourke breaks from the right-wing bad boys.
Next Article:Opening Arguments.
Topics:


Related Articles
Volunteer Slavery: My Authentic Negro Experience.
Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington, D.C., 1964-1994.
The Media and the Mayor's Race: The Failure of Urban Political Reporting.
A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America.
The Last of the Black Emperors: The Hollow Comeback of Marion Barry in a New Age of Black Leaders.
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters