Marion Barry statue to be unveiled in DC Saturday
On Saturday, Washington D.C.’s leaders will unveil a statue of the late “Mayor for Life,” Marion Barry. The 8 ft. tall bronze piece will sit outside of the Wilson building for all to see.
The artist Steven Weitzman said Barry welcomed people to Washington D.C. with open arms, “…to be part of this great city because that’s what he was all about. That’s how I have been trying to portray him: as the man of the people … He was always there walking down the street, waving at people.”
Weitzman, the owner of Weitzman Studios, discussed his inspiration for the statue inside is Brentwood, MD studio. He said he spent a great deal of time with Barry’s friends, including Barry’s last wife and good friend, Cora Masters Barry. Weitzman said the statue was a collaboration.
“That helped to add a little character to the piece,” Weitzman said, “I just let them share with me what it is they remember about him and then I just start to sculpt.”
In addition to learning about Barry’s nuances and unique expressions, Weitzman said he was surprised to learn more about Barry’s activism, which dated back to at least college.
“I did know that he was associated with Martin Luther King and Jessie Jackson. But I had no idea he was as deeply involved as he was with the civil rights movement,” said Weitzman.
He learned how Barry is remembered as one of the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the same group Congressman John Lewis belonged to when he was severely beaten on “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama.
“He had stated that the person that had informed his life and kept him focused on these particular issues was Marion Barry,” said Weitzman, who added, “Barry was his teacher.”
There’s no doubt Marion Barry had his demons. He was arrested and jailed for cocaine possession.
Weitzman said there’s a lot more than just that moment. “He dedicated his life to doing these righteous things,” the artist said.
Weitzman also created a piece of work at National Harbor and the Frederick Douglas statue that sits in the U.S. Capitol Building.
The unveiling of the statue will take place outside of the John A. Wilson Building at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 3. That’s just a few days before Barry’s March 6th birthday.
The reported cost of the project is around $300,000.