Now back at square one, Barry again offers himself as savior to poor and working-class blacks.
His thirst for power matches theirs; their salvation is hitched to his.
Knowing that he couldn't win the 1990 mayoral race, Barry re-registered as an independent and ran for an at-large council seat during the interval between his conviction and sentencing.
Lacking organization, money, credibility, and social standing, Barry finished a distant third citywide, but first in Wards 7 and 8.
It has the fewest homeowners, the most residents of public and subsidized housing, and the lowest property values.
The ward contains few retail stores and only one supermarket.“I think he saw himself as sort of a prodigal son, someone who had been stigmatized by the arrest, stigmatized by the jailing, and who was now trying to find his way back to society,” Smith says. “African-American vernacular culture permits the redemption of a person in both religious and social terms and therefore permits it politically,” says the Rev. Knighton Stanley, pastor of Ward 4's People's Congregational United Church of Christ. The renaming allows him to assert both a Christian and a voguish Afro/Muslim identity, as well as to parade his new religious humility.But Anwar Amal is still a part-time name, painted (in parentheses) beneath his given name on his District Building office door.Forgiven by Ward 8, Barry remains the political entrepreneur he was when he set up shop in the District three decades ago, and he is repaying Ward 8's forgiveness with tireless advocacy and community mobilizing.Now, just three years after a sordid trial and 16 months after release from federal prison, a rededicated Barry reigns ascendant over Ward 8, a political boss with an unmatched organization, grandiose plans, and a legitimate claim to speak for a ward that's never had a voice.In just three years after his public disgrace, Marion Barry is redeeming himself as Ward 8's councilmember.Back to his roots in the lower-income black community, Barry is galvanizing the long-ignored ward and rebuilding his political foundation. You've got to give him a chance.” Another is cursing the “white motherfuckers” who brought Barry down in 1990. Hainsworth looks to be in his late 40s and, like the other men, came here this morning to register at a Ward 8 job fair. He was given a second chance, and he's on the road back.” Both Hainsworth and another man, who calls himself Zapp, worked in Barry's Pride Inc. “He's trying to see if he can come in and do something,” Zapp says.The loss served notice that Barry, no matter what the rest of the world thought, still owned the loyalty of thousands of Washington blacks.“What he found [in Ward 8] was a deep, heartfelt residual of resentment from people who thought he was wronged in the way he was brought to justice,” says Ward 1 Councilmember Frank Smith.Even if he never regains widespread credibility among whites and blacks, even if he never succeeds in capturing a fourth mayoral election, Marion Barry has accomplished something few believed was possible: He has come back and made Washington heed him again.At the deepest level, Marion Barry's redemption depends on Marion Barry's fall. They were going to pick him back up.” The white system tried to defeat Barry, his supporters believed, the same white system that tosses thousands of Ward 8 men and women into jail, denies them jobs, and banishes them to the shadows.