Election Special: Top 11 Marion Barry Quotes

Marion Barry quotes

Marion Barry the man gives some love to Marion Barry the wax figure, at Madame Tussauds in 2009. (Photo By: Patrick G. Ryan)

What better way to celebrate Election Day than with the Top 11 Marion Barry quotes of all time from “Mayor for Life” Marion Barry. Why 11 quotes? Because Marion goes to 11, that’s why.

For those who haven’t been following local DC politics, Marion Barry is still governing. Following four terms as mayor (including one after his crack conviction), Barry today serves as the DC Council member representing Ward 8, a seat he’s held since 2005. (Barry previously served two other tenures on the DC Council, as an at-large member from 1975 to 1979 and as Ward 8 representative from 1993 to 1995.) His current term ends on January 2, 2017—just a couple months shy of his 81st birthday.

(11) “Washington was a sleepy Southern town when I came in ’65 …  I have transformed Washington into a metropolis.” – in an interview with Al Jazeera (July 24, 2014)

(10) “There is a sort of unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend.” – at a press conference, after being robbed at gunpoint by two men in his Ward 8 neighborhood who apparently knew who he was (2006)

(9) “Womanizing had become an integral part of my lifestyle.” – in an interview with local DC magazine Sister 2 Sister, acknowledging that he brazenly flirted with other women in front of his wife (1991). That same year, he went on the Sally Jessy Raphael TV show and told a nationwide audience that he was addicted to women and sex.

(8) “White people should be allowed to come back only if the majority of the ownership is in the hands of blacks. That is, they should come back and give their experience and their expertise—and then they should leave.” – following the riots of 1968, telling an interviewer that white dominance of business in the inner city must end

(7) “Why should blacks feel elated when we see men eating on the moon when millions of blacks and poor whites don’t have enough money to buy food here on earth?” – in response to Nixon honoring the moon landing with a holiday, but opposing an MLK holiday (July 19, 1969)

(6) “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops. They ought to go, I’ll just say that right now, you know. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.” – in his election night victory speech, after winning the Democratic primary for DC’s Ward 8 seat and effectively securing a third term (April 3, 2012)

(5) “I am clearly more popular than Reagan. I am in my third term. Where’s Reagan? Gone after two! Defeated by George Bush and Michael Dukakis no less.” – during third term (1986-90)

(4) “First, it was not a strip bar, it was an erotic club. And second, what can I say? I’m a night owl.” – following allegations he was spotted at 14th Street strip club This Is It? (1981)

(3) “Bitch set me up … I shouldn’t have come up here … Goddamn bitch.” – after being arrested in a sting operation in Room 726 at the Vista Hotel (now the Westin Washington, DC City Center) by the FBI and DC Police for crack cocaine use and possession (January 18, 1990)

(2) “Get over it.” – to those who opposed his 1994 mayoral campaign following his incarceration for smoking crack during his third term as mayor

(1) “I may not be perfect, but I am perfect for Washington.” – to a throng of supporters at his victory celebration after winning a third term in 1986. In 1992, after serving six months in prison for crack cocaine use and possession, he ran for and won a city-council seat under the slogan, “He May Not Be Perfect, But He’s Perfect for D.C.”


BONUS: Current DC mayoral candidate Carol Schwartz dances with the “Mayor for Life” in 2007 at Adrian Fenty’s mayoral inauguration ball.

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