THE RELIGION CORNER: My Interview with 'Mayor for Life' Marion Barry

Lyndia Grant | 2/12/2014, 3 p.m.
In his first live public interview since being released from the hospital last week, “Mayor for Life” Ward 8 Council ...
Marion Barry

In his first live public interview since being released from the hospital last week, “Mayor for Life” Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry dispelled rumors that his health is failing so fast that he might not recover during my Radio One talk show last Friday. “My spirits are high,” and he is doing fine, he said in a robust voice, as he advised my listeners to stay positive, to “persevere” and to “never give up.”

After all, Barry said in the 30-minute live telephone interview from an undisclosed physical rehabilitation center where he is receiving treatment, “I have a 77-year-body,” and “I’m lucky to be alive.”

Barry’s upbeat messages are similar to those I often suggest on my weekly radio talk show, “Think on These Things,” which airs on WYCB-AM (1340) on Fridays at 6 p.m. Last week’s show was a Black History Month tribute to Mr. Barry, who has refused other media requests.

The former mayor told my partner Adrienne Washington, who gives a weekly spotlight on politics, that he is not paying attention to the “naysayers” who want to talk about “old things,” rather he is using this positive attitude as part of his treatment to overcome the latest health challenges, primarily brought on by diabetes.

“I’m walking better now,” and “I’m building up my muscles,” Barry said during our lighthearted interview. Then he talked about planning his 78th birthday party on March 6.

For Black History Month, I’ve scheduled some very high profile guests to salute during my show and the kick-off salute was to Barry who brought positive changes to this city, as I pointed out. He discussed his legacy and his current legislative initiatives as well as his health and upcoming book, “Mayor for Life: The Extraordinary Life of Marion Barry.”

“I’ve helped a lot of people,” Barry said of his legacy.

Barry's supporters still see him as the activist, the champion of the poor. As mayor, Barry also worked closely with business leaders to bring D.C. back from a sleepy southern town to a thriving metropolitan and cosmopolitan city.

However, he told Adrienne that gentrification has become a problem and if he was still mayor his priorities would be to find housing, jobs and do something so people could stay here.

“The white people have taken over this city,” he said, alluding to gentrification.

During his four terms as mayor, I think Barry affected so much positive change; much of which isn’t mentioned often enough for me. Though he fell down, he got back up again and again; a must for anyone trying to succeed. He said he went to prison but came back as a model for others. His life is an example of stick-to-it ness!

My radio show places special emphasis on wellness and health as a special tribute to my deceased mother, Fannie Estelle Hill Grant who died from complications stemming from diabetes. Because Council member Barry had been hospitalized for weeks; and he too has diabetes, I feel his poor health is similar to my mother’s.

So I wanted to spotlight him with an interview that would be sure to bring him joy. Health practitioners speak often of how peace and joy can heal.

Barry also said, “This city isn’t doing anything about diabetes,” which is a shame because so many blacks suffer from the disease.

The title of my radio show, “Think on These Things” is taken from the scripture, Philippians 4:8 which reads, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things ... are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” This was my chance to say ‘thank you’ for the good you’ve done Mayor Barry.

Lyndia Grant is an author, inspirational and motivational speaker, radio talk show host and columnist; visit her new website at www.lyndiagrant.com and, call 202-518-3192. Tune in Fridays at 6 p.m., to the radio talk show, 1340 AM, WYCB, a Radio One Station.