tv Book Discussion on Mayor for Life CSPAN August 9, 2014 1:01am-2:05am EDT
centrist position. the obama administration has been by and large, not entirely but by and large run in its policy decisions by political people. we are talking about david axelrod who helped him get elected and i'm talking about valerie jarrett and i will give you a concrete example of this. in my book blood feud, i discussed a meeting that took place between bill and hillary clinton and caroline kennedy at caroline kennedy's apartment on park avenue in new york. caroline kennedy was about to take post as ambassador to tokyo japan and she wanted advice from hillary the former secretary of state about what she should expect. hillary told her according to sources that hillary spoke to later that don't be surprised if you your marching orders as ambassador in tokyo come not
from the state department but from valerie jarrett in the white house who is essentially a political adviser not a policy person. i think that says volumes about how this administration is run. >> host: mr. klein the cover of your book features but cut coupled bill and hillary clinton and michelle and barack obama. talk about how they work together as a couple but also in the political sense. >> guest: how they work together? that would take us a long time but basically i would say that as quickly as i can say this, that the clintons have a marriage that is somewhat similar to the marriage of franklin roosevelt and eleanor roosevelt. it's essentially a working relationship. they have gone their separate ways in many ways. they don't live together often.
but they are colleagues and collaborators on policy as eleanor and franklin were. on the other side, excuse me. the obama side, we have a first lady in michelle obama who is best friends with valerie jarrett and who is a behind-the-scenes adviser to her husband in a way that is quite different because in many respects michelle behaves toward her husband as though she knows better. he has said in public that she is the boss. he often sounds like a henpecked guy i must say. i know that's very radical to say that but i think there's a lot of truth to that. these women both michelle and valerie have enormous influence over his policy decisions.
another concrete example, when bill daly was the chief of staff of the obama white house, he said after he resigned that he and obama would come to an agreement and then valerie jarrett would go upstairs to the residence that night, spend the evening up there talking to barack and michelle and the next morning the president would come down and contravene and throw out the agreement that daly had. daley resigned because he said he couldn't function with that kind of white house. >> host: he talked about a variety of topics and other topics are explored in the book "blood feud" the clintons versus the obama's. the author edward klein joins us for this discussion. mr. klein, thank you. >> guest: it's been a great pleasure. thank you having me on.
after serving six months in federal prison on drug possession charges. the former mayor sits on d.c.'s city council. he recently visited the national press club to barack his autobiography "mayor for life." this is an hour. >> the order of defense for this press rap is as follows. i'm going to introduce our guest and then i'm going to have a conversation with him. after that you can ask him questions. just raise your hand and one of our committee members will come around with a mic for you. when we have run out of time for questions because i imagine there will be quite a few he will be signing yearbooks. and i have also been told by the management that once you're done with that we are having jazz night in the bar upstairs with a live band so you might want to go up and check that out. marion barry jr. was born in 1936 and a tiny town in mississippi and picked cotton as
a child in the segregated south. when marion was eight his mother left his father whom he never saw again and moved to memphis. he was inducted in an national honor society in high school received a degree in chemistry from lemoine owen college in memphis and his masters degree in chemistry from fisk university in nashville in 1960. he completed all the courses required for a doctoral degree at the university of kansas where he studied quantitative and qualitative organic compounds. that's a surprise, isn't it? he was co-founder of the civil rights group the student nonviolent coordinating committee which was active in voter registration and desegregation in the deep south at a time when it was a very dangerous thing to do. in 1964 the organization sent him to d.c. where he won a seat on the school board in 1971 and became a councilmember in 1974.
he served as the second elected mayor of the district of columbia from 1979 to 1991 and again as the fourth mayor from 1995 to 1999 and he has been a member of the d.c. council representing ward 8 since 2005. now despite a life of many accomplishments and we have just heard a few of them, mr. barry is known for a few minutes on a videotape in the houston motel in 1998 while we will get to that later i would like to use this time tonight to explore the other aspects of your life that i didn't know about until i read your book. i'm sure that many people here tonight would also like to know. for instance, one thing that really surprised me was you were one of the first black eagle scouts in memphis and as the mother of two eagle scouts i would like to ask you, i'll bet you have never gotten this question before mr. mayor what
was your favorite merit badge and what did you learn from scouting? [laughter] >> good evening. good evening. let me just get that out of the way. i think it was lifesaving and swimming. >> lifesaving and swimming. >> and camping and birdwatching. >> was that girl watching her birdwatching? >> birdwatching, birdwatching. >> i think they do and my son got it. >> oh really? [laughter] >> did you feel you learn some things from the boy scouts that helped propel you through university and into your life? >> i learned quite a bit. one, i learned leadership skills. i learned tenacity and resilience and courage and all those kinds of things. as well as getting along with
other people from different backgrounds. i went to jamboree in new mexico and all those kinds of things so it helped shape my life quite a lot like frankly bet the person who is the most important in my life was my mother. my mother finished the third or fourth grade and my father the third or fourth grade and they were sharecroppers. that is where you work all year chopping cotton. you don't know anything about chopping cotton but picking cotton. we had a garden and when it was all said and done we met with about three or $4000 in cash. the man had a story and he sold seats to my family at a price higher than he paid for them and bought the cotton back at a price lower than he could get for it and i think it's
important that in america you find there are very few opportunities at that time for a black boy born in mississippi, poor living in a house without any running water, without any electricity, used kerosene lamps and without the amenities we now have that back to my mother. my mother was a domestic. a white woman family kitchen and bathroom taking care of their kids and all that kind of stuff. my mother told me and i didn't understand it quite at the time she was telling me this. she said when she went to interview for a job, they got there all the duties and responsibilities and she would tell that white woman doing the hiring, i'm not going to go through the backdoor. if i'm good enough to take care
of your kids and clean your house and cook your food i am going to go through the front door. she lost a lot of jobs that way. she also said back in those days in the pinal they were called by their first name. she said my name is not maddy. it's ms. collins said she lost a lot of jobs for that. i think that kind of tenacity and courage rubbed off on me in some way or another. i remember as clearly as i'm sitting here when she would tell me that story i didn't understand it then. i was too young to probably understand it, but that wasn't the funny moment in my life with my mother. she lived to 92 years of age. she past six or seven years ago. come on, you can clap. 92, 92, 92. it's a long time.
[applause] >> so speaking of your mother when you are young man he were very busy in addition to school and being in the honor society. he had a lot of odd jobs. you are collecting merit badges but even so you were a little bit of a rabble-rouser even in your youth. he you write that you liked drink white water from white water fountains. what did your mother have to say about doing that? >> she slapped the hell out of me. [laughter] it was the custom in the south. void that you know better than that? dam. >> i thought that was an interesting point in your book. back then the older people and segregation were used to living like that and that was the young ones 14 or 15 that said you are crazy, why are you living like this? >> that's true. let me do this. let me back up a little bit and put this book in context. a lot has been written about
marion barry. a lot of photographs have been taken but those interviews and those stories were about the what of my life, not the two of my life. not that two of my life. it's about me being a four term mayor. i decided to tell the story of who marion barry really is. what it is that i'm made of. [applause] and this book is brutally frank. i tell it all, the good comes the bad and the because life is no rose bed. everything goes without no imperfections in your life. you don't make mistakes inner life so i put that in the book and for those of you that are going to read the book or buy
one, that's great. you will see that they are our detailed situations. this book took me almost a year to do. i am a retiree. i am up until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. going to work at my counseling job. i work on saturday, sunday and late into the night working on holidays to make sure that i was accurate and what i was trying to put together. i talked to a number of tape recorders to try to put this together. it was a labor of love, a labor of love. my life didn't start with the vista and it didn't end with the vista. the vista was this much of a sliver in my seven or eight
years -- 78 years. it was a sliver. it was important. i wanted to get that out of the way right now. regardless of what happens if i said this or said that it happened 24 years ago. i say again, 24 years ago. 24 years ago. and i asked forgiveness from rashida and her mother mary moore because she was a victim as i was to some extent but notwithstanding that, i apologize to this community. i apologize to my wife and my son christopher. they accepted that apology. this country is a country of second, third, fourth and fifth chances. [applause] what i hoped this book would do is inspire somebody who is struggling to stand up.
i hope this book would educate some people as to the truth because dr. king said truth press to the ground shall rise again. you shall rise again. so i've put it in that context. another context is washington d.c.. washington d.c. is our nation's capital. if her local government. for all the foreign embassies are and the national government and all the cabinet agencies and the 435 members of the house of representatives and 170 representatives. there's an international press here, and national press here which means there are more eyes on me than any other person in america, in america. i survived that and i have overcome that. i didn't let it get me down and
i want to thank the people in washington d.c. who are bright and beautiful for having the sense and understanding to cut through all the bs. understand that and also with put this major press here. we have a few barry haters, probably half a dozen. some are here tonight. with the barry haters do, they can't find anything good. there's always good in something, isn't there? there is one columnist who hasn't even read the book. he has not read the book and wrote on the book. that is not right to do. i'm going to take it out, don't worry about it. in some instances i think it will sell books but anyway back to you. [laughter] >> i was really fascinated to read about your education in the field of science and in the book
you say that you moved from science towards community activism because you were teaching students when you are getting your graduate degree. the white ones europe -- the parents didn't want a black man to teach them in the black ones were not prepared so it started to upset you you're right that the black community was and is well-educated in the segregated schools and then you moved into community activism. >> bless you. as i said earlier i had four sisters and three of them have passed. i have one living sister in memphis, tennessee. she is 10 years younger than me. i talked to her this morning, gloria. when i was in high school i went to a sports oriented high school. booker t. washington was the
champion, statewide champion of black schools and everything, football, basketball, track, everything. so i went out for the band fans because i was too small to play football and not good enough to play basketball. i went out for the band and after about two weeks the bandmaster said you need to go buy a trumpet. we can't let you keep taking this trumpet home and i didn't have any money to buy a trumpet. my mother had no money. nobody had the money around me so i dropped out of the band. then i decided to go into boxi boxing. i was in about 15 bytes, at 112 pounds. can you imagine, 112 pounds and moved up to van der weide at 115 pounds. the last two bytes i had this guy hit me so hard i saw stars. i didn't get knocked out but i
saw stars and i told the coach, i'm sorry i've got to go. [laughter] i'm not doing that. he said stick it out. the same thing happened two weeks later. i said coach on going. don't try to talk me back. i'm glad he didn't succeed in talking me back because i wouldn't be mumbling around here now being hit upside the head so many times. i was also smart academically and i loved science at that time so i went to lemoine college. i don't want to give too many details or you won't want to read if i tell you everything. i decided to major in chemistry with a minor in math. i came through an era when people use the first letter of their name and their middle name like g. washington cox.
i didn't have a middle name and part of what we did the four of us was to do some specialty. mine was current events and i named myself after the russian scientist because he had done some outstanding things in science. that is how i got the middle name. when other final point on education. i went to kansas for a year. i couldn't stand that kind of lifestyle you know drinking be beer. going to kansas city for entertainment because lawrence was not officially segregated so i went to tennessee. i went there for three years. the only black student and 3000 national scientists. the only black student and i made good enough grades to stay there for three years. i was going to do my dissertation but i got tired of
it. i was active in the civil rights movement and i could help more people that way. so it's also overcoming, struggle, tenacity, courage, vision. all of those things are replete throughout the book no matter what the situation is. god gave it to me. i decided to give it back to the community and i have given it to this community, every bit of it. there's not one person who has lived here or visited here who is not affected directly or indirectly by the leadership of marion barry. [applause] >> so let's skip over several fascinating things and go to when you won your first election for mayor.
there is so much that you did that i just wasn't aware of. when he first took office you have the first audit done on city finances and you found the city was $387 million deep in the hole and during your first three consecutive terms in office you balance the budget 11 out of 12 years. that's something we should learn to do these days. >> you reduce the deficit by 200 million. you established a relationship with wall street and attain their highest credit rating for the city. [applause] you for slum landlords to fix up their properties and make them clean and safe. he visited a programs to provide fair and affordable housing, reduce the high infant mortality rate of the city to one of the lowest in the country, expanded the summer jobs program to more than 20,000 kids and were able
to build 70 buildings buildings downtown east of 15th and above pennsylvania creating revenue and jobs. i get the sense from your book that your favorite out of your many accomplishments as mayor is increasing minority hiring for d.c. government contracts. could you please tell us about that? >> let me also say when i took office in 79 i was sworn in by thurgood marshall associate justice of the supreme court who at one point works to get me out of jail with the naacp defense fund. that was a big event for us raid washington d.c. back in those days and maybe washingtonians don't like me to say this, it was a sleepy southern town, a sleepy southern town. this building was not here. this complex was not here.
there was one building, the fbi building and f street and g street all of those didn't exi exist. the west end didn't have any major high-rise buildings. but look at washington now. look at it now. it didn't just happen overnight. it took a lot of work, a lot of fission and a lot of tenacity. for instance i appointed herb miller who is a white developer as the chair of my living downtown committee of 70 to 80 people. they came over to great recommendations. also i really organize the permit department and welcomed business to come to washington. we doubled the number of hotel room since i started. i think that's important that we see the big picture because i painted a large picture, a large photograph of our city. again all of this is replete with courage tenacity and vision
and understanding the community and loving this community and they loved me back. that is very important. [applause] in terms of my programs, my most favorite program is my summer job programs. [applause] because when i grew up i had to sell rags, pop bottles carried the morning paper, the evening paper. i had to scuffle altering the year and the only thing that saved me was a friend of mine down the street. he grew much faster than me and in between my tenth and 11th, tenth and 11th grade, i grew
2.5, maybe 3 inches and i have nothing to wear. my mother couldn't afford so he gave me all of his clothing. his pants, his suit, his shirts so to him i am eternally grateful. it's not complaining about what you don't have that working hard to get what you want. that's another example. but back to the city government. my second, really it was my first most important program was minority business. that's hispanics, that's blacks and that's women. it was 3% by mike amen, 3%. when i left it was 47%. millions of dollars transferred into the hands of people who had
been left out. one example of that was bob josten of bet. the council awarded with my help bob johnson the franchise, the franchise and he didn't have an operator. he went to tci and got hooked up with him. we have some land out on new york avenue where washington was supposed to go. i let bob johnson we solve that land for a dollar a year. 1 dollar a year. he began here in d.c. and he's a multimillionaire, billionaire and look at bet now. another example is -- who i
appointed a task force when he was 23 years of age. by staff said why are you doing that? he's too young. i said somebody gave you a break and he moved on to be a developer and he's one of the most prosperous developers in the country, white or black. again started right here. i can name 100 more. the final point of this equation is black democrats. there were qualified members of the black middle class who had not been given an opportunity. they have degrees, they have certificates and they had all kinds of things that were necessary but the d.c. government was basically lily white at the top so we open the government up in a residential requirement. those black families were able to move here up to here and in fact i'm very proud of the fact that we have built a strong black middle class.
also in the process though what happened a number of the black middle class went to prince george's county. i understand it because they were hearing all the sirens and hearing all these ambulances and gunshots and all those kinds of things. in fact wade curry, his second inauguration, asked me to stand. i was his guest and thanked me for george -- saint george's county. i'm proud of that too. we are not going to let these imaginary boundaries stop us. if they are suffering over here they are suffering over here. if there is success over here their success over here. prince george's count -- prince george's county is one of the richest population majority
black in america. i'm proud about that situation. [applause] >> you write in a book that not everybody was pleased with the shifting white communities into the black community and you felt that this played a role in what happened, that by the late 1980s the fbi started to look for your bank accounts, telephone records, credit card bills spending $10 million you write in an effort to nail you on something and you even reported there was this hurts rental truck following you around day and night. so why do you think they did this? >> i put in economics. i had have a problem with the fbi when i was -- but we all did. when i first came to wash janaya.problem with the fbi or law enforcement of any kind but when i studied the minority program or shifting millions and
millions and millions of dollars to the minority community, from 3% to 27% and also it seems strange. the fbi should have welcomed me building a black middle class. i got 47% of the vote by white people and 78. when i got into office by new it but i had not understood it as well. all of the problems, all of the social problems were in the black community particularly the low income community because in the white community they don't need job training. they don't need job placement. they confine their own jobs. they don't need an excellent education system because they send their kids to an excellent one and pay for it themselves.
some of my barry haters, imagine they did me a favor. i'm not going to tell you yet because i will take them off. [laughter] >> but you do admit that you weren't squeaky clean in the 80s. >> no question. who is? >> a couple of affairs so you do admit that. >> it wasn't hard to admit. it's the truth. i'm serious. that's the truth. what happened to me in those two years and that one night, i should not have gone up there. i should never have gone to that hotel and should not have walked up the stairs. i should not have been anywhere even though i'm sure they would have found some other way but i'm glad they found this way which was safer than another kind of way. i said earlier i apologize for
that. i apologize to the community and in fact if you talk about christianity i am a strong devout christian. the disciples asked jesus how many times should we forgive somebody and he said 70 times 70. i'm not perfect. i admit my faults. i admit my mistakes. unless you do that as we call it on the streets you are just shocking and jibing. i want to find somebody who is perfect. anybody except jesus, anybody who has not made a mistake hasn't done a damned thing. i'm not trying to justify it. i'm just explaining it so people can begin to see this in the context of the total picture of
marion barry. i'm 78 years old and i thank god for that because them majority of people who graduated with me and my high school class, we used to have for unions and we would like a white candle for everyone we knew that gap -- gone on. it got so bad that the white candles outnumbered those of us who are still here. it was too painful for us so we stopped having it because we knew all these people who lead gone on. we have a lot of interaction in our class. what i also want to do with that, those mistakes, those misjudgments, i want them to be a lesson to other people who are suffering the same kind of thing. particularly the drug situations. we have millions and millions of americans right now who are suffering from that disease of
drug addiction. there are thousands of d.c. residents who are suffering. in fact when we talked to job development people they will tell you one of the biggest barriers to employment is -- so i want to be an instructor that if marion barry can do it, you can do it. if marion barry can stand up, you can do it. that is one of the reasons i wrote the book so i could put all of that in their and educate and inspire. a lot of our people, a lot of white people too have gone through a lot. it may not be drugs or alcohol that is something. maybe it's divorce, kids who don't act right or financial problems etc.. i want to be instructed that you can tackle that problem or you can ignore it. my pastor edward wilson used to preach about the storm.
we were all just getting out of the storm, on a way to a storm or in a storm. the question is how do you get out of the storm? first evolved if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. stop digging. but more importantly it's better to go above the storm i mean to go through the storm and some of the storm rubs off on you. if you ignore the storm that's idiocy. so this book is about helping other people too. i'm going to help financially no question about that but it's more about giving examples of how one man can overcome so many things. i'm just an ordinary person who has done extraordinary things. the reason i'm taking the time to talk about this in detail if you read it in the book is the
barry haters don't want to tell you the truth. they wouldn't know the truth if they saw it but you all understand that and thank you all so much for understanding where i'm coming from. and to the grace of god do i sit here and some other people. i had an enormous, a blood infection. a third of the people who get it don't come back but god bless me to come back and continue to serve this community. i'm still not quite there yet. i'm limping a little bit but i'd rather walk that way then not to walk at all frankly. so i give all that glory to god. people say why you talking about this god stuff? i have been through difficult times emotionally and physically and otherwise and only when i gave it to god did i begin to
come back. the naysayers are going to find some reason to criticize me anyway so i don't mind you criticizing me about god. god is here. >> i think the one thing that really shocked the world was when he ran again for mayor in 1994 and you one in your slogan was great. he may not be perfect but is perfect for d.c.. [applause] so firstly how did you even have the nerve to run again at that point and why is it you think they put you back there? >> several things. one matt kelley had not been a good mayor. when we did our pool he only pulled 13%. i told my pollster go back and do it again. this is incredible for an
incumbent man who hadn't had any major scandals. he came back 13% and she got 13% in the election. then we had john ray who i helped because he supported me and 78 running. there were so many things that weren't being done. the minority programs are going downhill less than 30% maybe of that much, down to 20% now and also our school system was still a wreck. i go to safeway and i couldn't get out of there in less than two hours. people are talking about what what about this and what about that and what can you help me with my guess has been turned off and all these other things. i knew i couldn't do it from the council so i decided to use my tenacity, my courage and my vision my resilience to run for
mayor. it was my best campaign. i got 47% of the vote in 1994. the people of washington, those who are here saw all the good work that we had done. you judge a person not by the color -- cover of the book but though what's in the book and the chapter. god gave me these visions. washington is better off when i ran in 94 and they won against all odds. can you imagine? i was in 13 races and only lost one. i'm known around the country is one of the most skillful political people in the country. [applause] so that's that. hey where have you been?
wait a minute. ken comments was original -- that raggedy paper called the city paper. [laughter] but ken was very creative. he called me macbeth i think. he called my wife lady macbeth or something like that. blackberry. that was it. he also started mayor for life and i didn't like it. the more people talk to me and said you are the man forever, regardless of what they say you are the best manner we have had so that turned into mayor for life. everybody than eleanor holmes martin, everybody.
marion bowser supported me for mayor and i talked to her this morning and she said how is the mayor for life? so, thank you. thank you ken. thank you. [inaudible] >> okay, i'm sorry. >> you are serving in ward 8 the poor section of the city in the right in the book that you can stop by the police on several occasions for it dwb and what does that stand for? driving while black and for driving too slowly. >> that's a true story. i am out on the avenue getting ready to go southeast and the national park service police officer sitting across the street. i was driving probably 25,
30 miles an hour and i saw the red light. he gave me a ticket for traveling to slow. as it turned out to d.c. didn't have such a law on driving too slow but the national police i have had more trouble with them than anybody in this town. they have left me alone now. they don't pick up these little trivial things on me. >> do you feel racism is still alive and well in america despite the fact that we have a black man in the white house and will we ever get past, will we ever live in a post-racial society? what you think about that? >> you know, the last chapter of my book talks about where we go from here. i don't say racism that race is
a factor in everything that happens in america. it's a factor. not the factor but it's a factor. washington d.c. has become mostly hats and a third have-nots. we have that defy that wide. look at the income gap. ward 8 is $26,000 a year and board three and i admire the persons who worked hard to get there, $200,000. compare that, 200,000 over here and 26,000 overhears to what it has done in low income communities is run people into crime selling drugs trying to get money. i don't condone that but i understand it.
burglary, robbery and all these things are about getting money. young people today are influenced greatly by television. we had a video called grand theft auto. grand theft auto. where they had people treating cops. that was awful and people who are making money off of that are nonblack people. that bothers me. we have in low income communities you have a black boy who has never ever in his life, his young life seen a black man get up and go to work. because 82% of the families in ward 8 are run by a female household.
we had one son, christopher who just turned 342 days ago. we had all of the amenities. we had the connections to get him in a school called jefferson middle school. we have the connection to get them into wilson senior high school where he graduated in 98. and what about those parents that don't have those resources, don't have those connections and don't have transportation. hopefully the book can point out things like that so people can begin to take hold but the basis of all this is very simple. it's poverty. it's poverty. it's easy to say that poverty doesn't really strike but think about it. that is thus were bad -- had
control over what nationality we were born to people with poverty in america were born into poverty. they were. few people who got into poverty. they might have lost their job or something like that but in terms of poverty, it is massive in america. we have to do all we can to get people to become self-sufficie self-sufficient. it took me a long time to answer that but i wanted to use to understand what i'm saying. >> i have one quick question before he moved to audience questions and that is you are 78 the talent you have had health issues over the past several years but looking ahead what do you still want to do and what you want your legacy to be? what is the future for marion barry? >> i have two more years left on the council until 16. that's a given. i learned long ago you don't
telegraph your punches. i learned that from boxing come you don't telegraph your punches the one thing i can say is i'm on the council for two more years. in terms of my legacy there are so many things but i guess if i had to summarize it, it would be a person who can be -- by every human being particularly those low-income black people and hispanics who do this and women who undergo a lot of discrimination themselves. the other thing i want to try to get a part of my legacy is to be instructive to people. that they too can succeed in spite of it all trade they too can overcome if they believe in themselves. believe in a mighty god or whatever you want to call god and if you have the tenacity and
developed the courage and the strong feeling about themselves, and is chanel here? , pure minute. i want to use this as an example of my legacy. i met janelle spencer in 2004 at my victory party in ward 8. after i started talking to her, i found out that she had a high school diploma, ged, had four boys, raising them by herself. she had refused to go on welfa welfare. she worked two and three jobs and i helped her get into public housing because you spent $1000 which is 60% of her income.
she went to school, got her high school diploma, got a certificate in nurses aides for five months ago. she passed the licensed practical nursing exam. [applause] and she is going to d.c. school of nursing in august to get her r.n. for four years bachelors program. that is what i want to leave people with. thank you janelle, thank you. >> thank you so much. [applause] this gentlemen up here has a question in the corner here. if you could speak into the mic please. >> we have known each other for a number of years.
>> with you bought a book or not i thank you, i thank you, thank you. >> you almost started preaching there for a moment. >> you are preacher. you can take care of that. >> as the current president of the national "businessweek" i have looked back on what burton broke it for me what ted hagans did for the city. so i commend you highly for the work you have done especially for the small business community because that's something we would not have had had it been for you. you are the only mayor of all the mayors we have had that qualify. only mayor in the city that i made any money from because of you and i thank you so much and i commend you for all you have done. >> thank you, ron. >> the lady in the second row. >> mayor if you are the emperor of the united states and you had limitless power what would you do about poverty in america? >> you know i don't answer
what-if questions. i really don't. no personal offense. i am not emperor and i will never be emperor. i'm not being hostile or anything. that's just my style. the key to staying out of difficulty from time to time is asking and answering plenty of questions. i would rather you ask my opinion about something but as to the poverty question, poverty is so evasive. massive, i'm sorry. poverty is so massive in this country. you have 42 million people on food stamps both black and whi white, appalacian you have poor white people. some places and west virginia have poor white people in poverty would not be eradicated or reduced until everybody in
the country, every legislator, every government, every mayor, every everybody gets involved. now we are going to make a dent here because we will be working hard and getting people off of temporary assistance for needy families, get them some jobs but that's just a little dent in it. i appreciate the question that poverty is so massive. somebody quoted somebody the other day. jim brown told me, he said helen keller said those who are well off have an understanding, have a hard time understanding those persons who are not well off. this is society. thank you very much. >> we have this gentleman over
here. >> hi mayor buried my question is one of the things that strikes me about what you have been doing is the economic growth. you look at economics and during the civil rights movement didn't seem that was a major focus and there's more economic inequality in america and less black businesses now than in the 1880s. now we have the new semicon -- silicon valley and microsoft. washington d.c. is a believer in growth despite everybody else taking credit. why is this not in the forefront in the civil rights or african-american leadership? this is what new jobs, well-paying jobs and private equity jobs at that good jobs in america are still being denied to those who have served their country and who are educated. i think that's something that is the mom told story of washington d.c. and america. >> well unfortunately when you are all pressed like a number of people were oppressed your
priorities are just to live and survive. if you grew up in a segregated society your human dignity is at stake and so if you notice marshall washington -- the march on washington was jobs and voting rights. basic point in this country the right to vote is being eroded now. there are a number of us who have been working on the economic development situation. the last chapter of my book talks about civil rights and that is what i think we ought to look at. let me apologize for being a little bit -- i'm usually five or 10 minutes late anyway. my biological clock doesn't work right with the timeclock. when i was in college i refused
to take an 8:00 class. i took a 9:00 class but i really apologize. we just got back from new york and had a great time in new yo york. a lot of shows and al sharpton show. the train was late so i apologize deeply for that. >> all right we have a question or there. >> al green for life this is harold hunter. i just wanted to congratulate you on your book and i just wanted to also make sure that everyone knows that you helped to pioneer the free pc movement in terms of what we need to do. we have enough population in enough revenue indefinitely we have a sense of urgency so what is your opinion about the free pc movement?
>> well it happened in 1966, 67, 68 because the board of trade had gone on record as being opposed to home rule. i think i struggled -- our struggle must continue. we need statehood and stated n now. we are going to call on you and others to assist us in dealing with statehood. can you imagine this budget is $11 billion. 7 billion of it comes from you all the local taxpayers and the other comes from us as a state and the federal government but yet we don't go hat in hand. we don't go hat in hand, we have to go to congress to get permission to spend their own money. we go around the country, around the world like george bush and
everybody else trying to make democracy to iraq and you saw what has happened to them, to afghanistan, to pakistan. i am for terrorists being rooted out but if you talk about democracy around the world, come right back here to our home in the white house come in the congress. we don't have statehood here? there something wrong with that picture. there's something wrong with that picture. [applause] he will be next. >> my name is evangelist mary clement. i want to thank you so kindly marion barry for your excellent leadership skills and vision and courage and tenacity. i want to ask you during the civil rights time were you ever
injured at all while marching? were you ever heard? did someone hit you or with water or any of those things? >> i was spat upon and i was pushed at the lunch counter in those kinds of things. i was blessed not to have been shot like fannie goodman. in fact we celebrate a big anniversary in mississippi this weekend and i can't go because i have to stay here to work on this book. i was shocked in march of 1977. they took over b'nai b'rith and islamic center. i got hit right in the chest and
god was there. the bullet probably ricocheted. you can read more about in the book. [laughter] 's. >> this back here has been waiting. >> hello marjorie. >> how are you doing? congratulations on the book. i would like to answer his legacy question for him. i have an idea. i think one of the colleges and astound howard udc georgetown or george washington or maybe all of them should share a seat for marion barry and it should be about teaching kids in this town political science and how to run for office because you are the greatest campaigner. i don't think there's anybody in this room that didn't work at night and i can imagine one of the school should not do this. so i'm putting it out there. you can put it on the news. i think this is what should
happen. >> thank you marjorie. [applause] >> some people are talking about that. >> hello marion barry. my name is donna wood and i'm a secondary washingtonian. when i read information about being here i was just like him i had to be here. it's important to me because i want to let you know you had a great impact on my life. mainly some of the things i didn't hear about are about the defense of the demonstration project you had to put students in washington d.c.. you let them know that kids in d.c. want to go to college and i was the recipient of that. for my being a recipient of that i got paid and got through one of your programs and i graduated from howard university. [applause] >> i work for the d.c. department of recreation. ..