For Immediate Release
Contact: Jesse B Rauch, Executive Director, 202.741.0884
STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF MARION BARRY, FORMER MEMBER AND PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BOARD OF EDUCATION
Washington, DC – The D.C. State Board of Education mourns the passing of our colleague, Marion S. Barry Jr., a champion for children who served as president and at-large member of the Board of Education from 1971 to 1974. During his tenure, he revamped the District of Columbia Public Schools’ finances, raised teachers’ salaries, and hired Barbara Sizemore as superintendent, the first African American woman to head a major school system in the nation.
Even before serving on the Board of Education, Marion Barry displayed a passion for promoting educational opportunities and justice for students. A self-described “man of science,” he completed a master’s degree in chemistry and was working on a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, before abandoning his studies to lead civil rights protests against racial segregation and discrimination as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He moved to the District in 1965 to open a local SNCC chapter, and quickly became a driving force for home rule, job training programs, and civil rights.
“It is an honor to walk in Mr. Barry’s footsteps. He was a tireless advocate for education and for the elected State Board of Education,” said Mark Jones, current President and Ward 5 representative to the State Board of Education.
During his years representing Ward 8 on the City Council, Marion Barry never stopped working for children and youth. He was a ceaseless advocate for educational equity and excellence as a ranking member of the Council’s education committee. Earlier this month at THEARC, he served as a judge at the fourth annual Dancing with the Scholars, a scholarship fundraiser created to honor the late, beloved school board member and community advocate, William O. Lockridge.
“We’ve lost an irreplaceable partner and friend,” said Vice President and At-Large member Mary Lord. “Thanks to his groundbreaking work and vision, Marion launched our students, teachers, and public schools on the pathway to success.”
Tierra Jolly, the current Ward 8 representative to the State Board shared, “In addition to having the honor of serving alongside him to represent the Great Ward 8 that we both love and call home, I also had the opportunity to study his career as a graduate student in history. It is with a heavy heart that I wish him goodbye and send my deepest sympathies to his family.”
# # #