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Sunday, President Obama talked about the death of Marion Barry, who was mayor of the District of Columbia four times.

Obama praised Barry for his work on civil rights and his years of service to Washington, D.C., and he said he knew Barry’s public life had been “at times tumultuous.”

When Michelle and I heard that Marion Barry had died, we were sad. Marion’s father was a sharecropper, and Marion grew up during the Civil Rights movement. He worked in D.C. politics for a long time. Marion was a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a group that worked to improve civil rights for everyone. During the many years he was in office in Washington, D.C., he set up historic programmes to help working people get out of poverty, give them more chances, and start to make the promise of home rule come true. During her long and sometimes hard life and career, Marion won the love and respect of many Washingtonians. Michelle and I want Marion’s family, friends, and constituents to know that we are very sorry for their loss.

Early on Sunday morning, Barry died. He had lived for 78 years. His family never said what happened to him.

He was first elected mayor in 1979 and stayed in that job for three terms. In 1990, Barry was arrested on drug charges as part of a secret FBI probe. He decided not to run for office again after he was arrested. After he quit his job, he had to spend six months in jail. Barry was elected mayor again in 1994, and he stayed in office until 1999. He also served three terms on the D.C. city council and was the Ward 8 representative when he died.

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