Monthly Archives: November 2014

IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-30-2014

BUNNY BRIGGS, TAP DANCING VIRTUOSO

Bunny Briggs in “No Maps on My Taps: The Art of Jazz Tap Dancing,” a film from 1979. Credit GTN Productions

His death was confirmed by Sandra Seaton, a playwright and librettist who was related to Mr. Briggs by marriage.

In the world of tap, which especially prizes the passing of traditions from generation to generation, Mr. Briggs was a prodigy early on and a mentor in his later years. He danced on the streets of Harlem as a small boy, and on Broadway, “The Ed Sullivan Show” and at the Newport Jazz Festival as an adult.

Known for the speed of his feet, the breadth of his repertoire and his smooth, unflappable stage demeanor, he was both a showman and a musician. He was a star performer who could hold the audience alone at center stage, as he did in the 1989 Broadway musical revue “Black and Blue,” and a jazz percussionist with the likes of Count Basie, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington, who once described Mr. Briggs as “the most superleviathonic, rhythmaturgically syncopated tapsthamaticianisamist.”

Mr. Briggs was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in “Black and Blue,” which originated in Paris. A highlight was his tour de force solo to Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood.”

More than two decades earlier, at Ellington’s celebrated 1965 concert of sacred music at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Mr. Briggs was featured as a dancer in the composition “David Danced Before the Lord With All His Might,” a performance that Constance Valis Hill, a tap historian, wrote in her book “Tap Dancing America: A Cultural History,” “broke new ground for modern tap dancing on the concert stage.”

Ms. Hill continued: “It was not only the way Briggs shimmers across the floor — splaying 16th notes, rattling, clicking and stomping wild offbeat steps that jar everything around him — and the skimming fluidity of his rhythmic lines, and dynamics of phrasing, but the manner in which he played his feet as an accompanying musician within the orchestra.”

Along with Jimmy Slyde, Honi Coles, George Hillman, Steve Condos and others, Mr. Briggs was a busy performer in the heyday of tap, from the 1930s to the 1950s, when jazz was popular and tap masters were headliners in the swankiest nightclubs and on Broadway.

But in the 1960s, with rock ’n’ roll in ascendance and the civil rights movement gaining momentum, tap went into decline, suffering in part from a perception by some that it represented an era of black subservience in entertainment. Still, unlike some of his contemporaries, Mr. Briggs endured through those lean years, partly through his association with Hampton, with whom he performed at the Rainbow Grill in New York and elsewhere, and especially with Ellington; because of their close association, Mr. Briggs became widely known as “Duke’s dancer.”

Mr. Briggs, left, and Savion Glover in 1989 at the LeTang Studios on West 27th Street. Credit William E. Sauro/The New York Times

“I can’t really define my style,” he once said. “Dancers were dancing fast when I came up. I just wanted to make people feel relaxed. To just say, ‘Ahhh.’ ”

Tap began to re-emerge as a popular form in the 1980s with stage shows like “The Tap Dance Kid,” “Black and Blue” and, a bit later, “Jelly’s Last Jam,” along with the 1989 movie “Tap,” which featured several generations of tappers, including Mr. Briggs, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines and Mr. Glover, then a teenager. All helped emphasize the legitimacy of tap as an authentic, vernacular American art form and illustrated its torch-passing tradition.

Mr. Glover, who met Mr. Briggs when he was a boy and also appeared with him in “Black and Blue,” went on to usher tap into the era of hip-hop by, among other things, creating the Tony-winning choreography for the 1996 Broadway musical “Bring In da Noise, Bring In da Funk,” in which he starred.

“Bunny was the last of the hoofers, just about the last of the cats who mentored me,” Mr. Glover said in an interview on Tuesday. “But he was different in that, as far as dance style, he had more of an eccentric approach that made him stand out amongst the other cats.

“He’d act out his dance, like he’d have a scene going on his mind. In the middle of the dance, he’d strike these poses. I mean, our objective is always to tell a story, but he was such a sophisticated, lyrical cat.”

Information about Mr. Briggs’s early life is a bit hazy, but public records indicate that he was born Bernard Briggs in Harlem on Feb. 26, 1922. (The origin of the nickname Bunny is obscure. Asked once by the television journalist Bryant Gumbel where the name came from, Mr. Briggs said, “Well, I’m fast.”)

He was brought up by his mother, Alma Briggs, who liked to dance the Charleston. Her sister, Gladys, was a chorus girl, and the often-repeated story is that young Bunny’s mother took him, at age 3 (or 4 or maybe 5), to his aunt’s show, where he saw Bill Robinson perform.

“She danced,” Mr. Briggs recalled in a 1989 interview with The New York Times. “I started hollering. Then out walked Bill Robinson, and I knew immediately what I wanted to do. He was so calm. Everything he did was beautiful.”

One of his mother’s brothers taught him a step or two, he said, but “I never took a lesson.” He took to dancing on the streets of the neighborhood, particularly outside a record shop on Lenox Avenue and 137th Street.

“All the people came around to hear ‘Amos ’n’ Andy’ on the radio,” Mr. Briggs said. “They’d stand around in the street and listen. Then the man who owned the shop would put on a record and I’d dance. People would throw money, and I’d take it home to my mother.”

From then on he never wanted to do anything else, though he acknowledged that at one time he thought about becoming a priest — until his priest told him that God clearly wanted him to be a dancer. As a child, he performed in New York City ballrooms as part of a children’s dance group called Porkchops, Navy, Rice and Beans.

He was discovered by the pianist Luckey Roberts and danced with his orchestra on a high-society circuit of parties in the homes of Astors, Vanderbilts and others. His first movie appearance, in 1932, was in the film “Slow Poke,” with Stepin Fetchit. In the 1940s he toured with big bands, tapping to swing, and, inspired by Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, adapted his style to the more complex sounds of bebop. His versatility kept him employed.

“Even when tap was in its declining days, someone would call me,” he said in 1989. “Little clubs, big clubs. Boston. Philadelphia.”

Mr. Briggs, who has no immediate survivors, married Olivette Miller, a jazz harpist, in 1982. She died in 2003.

“When it came time for him to get dressed, Bunny would have a beer or a glass of wine, and the wardrobe people would leave,” Mr. Glover recalled about the backstage scene at “Black and Blue.” “And Olivette would come in and undo everything the wardrobe person had done and dress him the way she wanted him to look. And he would just sit there, like, ‘Yeah, baby, do with me as you please.’ ”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE: NOVEMBER 29, 2014

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is annually observed on November 29.

Local names

Name Language
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People English
Día Internacional de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino Spanish
היום הבינלאומי לסולידריות עם העם הפלסטיני Hebrew
اليوم العالمي للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني Arabic
팔레스타인 사람들과 연대의 날 Korean
Welttag der Solidarität mit dem palästinensischen Volk German

Alternative name

Solidarity Day

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is annually observed on November 29. The day is also known as Solidarity Day.

November 29 is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, also known as Solidarity Day.

This illustration is based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/Joel Carillet & ©iStockphoto.com/Benoit Roussseau

What do people do?

Special meetings may be held to observe Solidarity Day in some UN offices, councils, government bodies and organizations that have a special interest in the issues encompassing the event.  The day may also be publicized through newspapers, magazines, radio and television news, and online media.  Some topics that may be publicized or discussed include the status and plight of Palestinian refugees, as well as general information on Palestinian culture and society.

Public life

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)). On December 2, 1977, it was recorded that the assembly called for the annual observance of November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (A/RES/32/40 B). On December 1, 2003, the assembly encouraged member states to continue to provide support and publicity to observe the day. So the day was observed on December 1 in 2003.

The assembly also requested that the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the Secretariat should continue to organize an annual exhibit on Palestinian rights or a cultural event with the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.

Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map depicts the area of concern to the UN in achieving its main purpose, peace and security. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles.

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Thu Nov 29 1990 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Fri Nov 29 1991 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sun Nov 29 1992 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Mon Nov 29 1993 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Tue Nov 29 1994 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Wed Nov 29 1995 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Fri Nov 29 1996 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sat Nov 29 1997 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sun Nov 29 1998 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Mon Nov 29 1999 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Wed Nov 29 2000 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Thu Nov 29 2001 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Fri Nov 29 2002 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Mon Dec 1 2003 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Mon Nov 29 2004 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Tue Nov 29 2005 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Wed Nov 29 2006 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Thu Nov 29 2007 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sat Nov 29 2008 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sun Nov 29 2009 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Mon Nov 29 2010 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Tue Nov 29 2011 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Thu Nov 29 2012 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Fri Nov 29 2013 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sat Nov 29 2014 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sun Nov 29 2015 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Tue Nov 29 2016 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Wed Nov 29 2017 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Thu Nov 29 2018 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Fri Nov 29 2019 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance
Sun Nov 29 2020 International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People United Nations observance

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SKYWATCH: OCCULTATION CAUGHT ON CAMERA, SOLAR SPACECRAFT FAILS, AND MORE

LATEST NEWS

Contact Lost with Sun-Watching Probe STEREO B

Despite rescue efforts, no one has heard from one of two NASA spacecraft on the far side of the Sun since October 1st.

Bright Spot in Uranus’s Atmosphere

Amateur astronomers have confirmed the presence of a large, bright storm cloud on Uranus.

Breathtaking View of an Icy Water World

A newly processed image from NASA’s Galileo spacecraft shows Europa’s breathtaking beauty and tortured surface in greater detail than ever before.

OBSERVING HIGHLIGHTS

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, November 28 – December 6

The waxing Moon is well paired with sky delights this week. Mars hangs on as twilight fades away. And Jupiter rises with Regulus for an early-morning treat.

Shadows on the Moon Make a Point

Fooled by shadow play into thinking lunar mountains were pointy pinnacles? Learn why we often see them that way.

Tour December’s Sky: Geminids Return

Our monthly podcast offers the key highlights for stargazing in December: where to find bright stars and planets — and how to spot the Geminid meteor shower.

COMMUNITY

Watch Asteroid Juno Occult a Star

Watch an asteroid approach a star and block its light, all in a fraction of a second.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

HATEWATCH HEADLINES: NOVEMBER 11-26, 2014

Here we go with another round up of hate-filled insanity, all deranged and excellent candidates for pre-frontal trans-orbital lobotomies.

***********************************************

 

Hatewatch Headlines, 11-26-14

By SPLC Hatewatch Staff on November 26, 2014 – 8:30 am

IREHR: Tea Party faction leader claims to be plotting ‘takedown’ of President Obama with ex-military leaders.

Media Matters: Ted Nugent goes on racially charged rant about Ferguson, attacking ‘black Klansmen’ engaging in riots.

Talking Points Memo: KKK leader Frank Ancona meets with Anonymous member after Twitter hijacking.

San Francisco Chronicle: Concord man held in alleged hate crime for attempted arson at San Francisco church.

DiversityInc: What to do when you neighbor displays hate symbols.

The Herald (Everett, WA): Man with multiple pseudonyms harasses county by demanding all records dating back to 1776.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: NOVEMBER 25, 2014

 

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women raises public awareness of violence against women in all countries around the world and at all levels of society. It is observed each year on November 25.

Local names

Name Language
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women English
Día Internacional de la Eliminación de la Violencia contra la Mujer Spanish
יום המאבק הבינלאומי למניעת אלימות נגד נשים Hebrew
اليوم العالمي للقضاء على العنف ضد المرأة Arabic
여성에 대한 폭력의 근절을위한 국제의 날 Korean
Internationaler Tag gegen Gewalt an Frauen German

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2015

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an occasion for governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to raise public awareness of violence against women. It has been observed on November 25 each year since 2000.

Violence against women is an issue that UN and many others take seriously.

©iStockphoto.com/funky-data

What do people do?

Various activities are arranged around the world to draw attention to the need for continuing action to eliminate violence against women, projects to enable women and their children to escape violence and campaigns to educate people about the consequences of violence against women. Locally, women’s groups may organize rallies, communal meals, fundraising activities and present research on violence against women in their own communities.

An ongoing campaign that people are encouraged to participate in, especially around this time of the year when awareness levels for the day are high, is the “Say NO to Violence Against Women campaign”. Through the campaign, anyone can add their name to a growing movement of people who speak out to put a halt to human rights violations against women.

Public life

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

On November 25, 1960, three sisters, Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on the orders of the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabel sisters fought hard to end Trujillo’s dictatorship. Activists on women’s rights have observed a day against violence on the anniversary of the deaths of these three women since 1981.

On December 17, 1999, November 25 was designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the UN General Assembly. Each year observances around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women concentrate on a particular theme, such as “Demanding Implementation, Challenging Obstacles” (2008).

Symbols

Events around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women are coordinated by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). The logo of this organization consists of “UNIFEM”. The letters “U” and “N” are in blue and the letters “I”, “F”, “E” and “M” are in a darker shade of this color. An image of a dove surrounded by olive branches is to the right of the word. The image of the dove incorporates the international symbol for “woman” or “women”. This is based on the symbol for the planet Venus and consists of a ring on top of a “plus” sign.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Observances

 

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Sat Nov 25 2000 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sun Nov 25 2001 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Mon Nov 25 2002 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Tue Nov 25 2003 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Thu Nov 25 2004 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Fri Nov 25 2005 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sat Nov 25 2006 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sun Nov 25 2007 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Tue Nov 25 2008 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Wed Nov 25 2009 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Thu Nov 25 2010 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Fri Nov 25 2011 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sun Nov 25 2012 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Mon Nov 25 2013 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Tue Nov 25 2014 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Wed Nov 25 2015 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Fri Nov 25 2016 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sat Nov 25 2017 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Sun Nov 25 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Mon Nov 25 2019 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance
Wed Nov 25 2020 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women United Nations observance

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-23-2014

MARION BARRY, FORMER MAYOR OF WASHINGTON

 

Marion Barry in His Own Words

The former Washington mayor reflects on his life and his new memoir.

Video by A.J. Chavar on Publish Date July 1, 2014. Photo by Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times.

His death was confirmed by his family.

Mr. Barry died at United Medical Center in Southeast Washington just hours after he was released from Howard University Hospital on Saturday. He admitted himself on Thursday, saying that he did not feel well, although no specific medical problems were mentioned. On Sunday night, the medical examiner’s office ruled that he died of heart disease.

Mr. Barry had had various health problems in recent years. He had a kidney transplant in 2009 and was also treated for high blood pressure, diabetes and anemia. He underwent surgery for prostate cancer in 1995.

Mr. Barry’s death comes just months after the publication of his autobiography, “Mayor for Life: The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr.”

Elected mayor four times — in 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1994 — Mr. Barry left the mayor’s office for good early in 1999 and then worked as an investment banker. But politics was never far from his mind. In 2004 he was elected to the District of Columbia Council from a hard-pressed section in Southeast Washington, a district he represented until his death.

Mr. Barry was a charismatic yet confounding politician. Admirers saw him as a Robin Hood who gave hope to poor black residents. His detractors saw a shameless rogue who almost ruined the city by stuffing its payroll with cronies and hacks and letting services decay. Indisputably, he was a political Lazarus with a gift for convincing his followers that their hopes and disappointments were his, too.

On Jan. 18, 1990, Mayor Barry was arrested in a Washington hotel room while smoking crack cocaine and fondling a woman who was not his wife. The arrest, videotaped in an undercover operation, caused a sensation, but it was hardly a surprise: The public had known of his womanizing for years, and there had been rumors of drug use. Nor was he a stranger to the bottle.

Convicted of a misdemeanor cocaine possession, Mr. Barry was sentenced to six months in prison. His fall from grace was especially poignant for those old enough to remember the bright promise and idealism of his youth.

He was born on March 6, 1936, in Itta Bena, Miss. His father, also named Marion, died when he was 4, and his mother, Mattie, moved to Memphis, where she remarried. Her new husband, David Cummings, was a butcher and she worked as a domestic to support eight children.

Young Marion picked cotton, waited on tables and delivered newspapers. He became an Eagle Scout and earned a degree in chemistry from LeMoyne College in Memphis in 1958.

His middle initial, S., originally stood for nothing, but in the late 1950s he adopted the middle name Shepilov, after Dmitri T. Shepilov, a purged member of the Soviet Communist Party. As a sophomore, Mr. Barry joined the LeMoyne chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He became chapter president his senior year.

While studying for his master’s degree at Fisk University in Nashville, he organized a campus N.A.A.C.P. chapter. Early in 1960, he helped organize the first lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville. That April, he and other student leaders met with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to establish the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Mr. Barry became its first national chairman.

After a year as a teaching assistant at the University of Kansas, he began studying for a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Tennessee. He abandoned his studies a few credits short and began working full time for S.N.C.C.

In June 1965 he moved to Washington, where reporters occasionally referred to him as a “dashiki-clad militant.” A powerful speaker and street campaigner, he began pressing for home rule for the District of Columbia. He had found fertile political soil, since residents had only recently won the right to vote in presidential elections and had virtually no say in governing themselves.

In 1967, Mr. Barry started a jobs program for poor blacks, winning federal grants worth several million dollars. He won his first election in February 1970, to a citizens’ board created to smooth relations between police officers and black residents. He was later president of the school board and a member of the City Council.

On March 9, 1977, he was shot during a takeover of a Washington office building by members of the Hanafi Muslim sect. The bullet narrowly missed his heart, but Mr. Barry was back at work by the end of the month.

The next year he ran for mayor and defeated the incumbent, Walter E. Washington, who had become the District of Columbia’s first elected mayor four years earlier, and the City Council president, Sterling Tucker, in the Democratic primary, making his election in November a certainty in that overwhelmingly Democratic city.

“Let this day signal our drive toward greatness,” he told a cheering crowd on Jan. 2, 1979, as he was sworn in for the first time by Justice Thurgood Marshall of the Supreme Court.

At first, Washington seemed to undergo a renaissance with Mr. Barry as mayor. Downtown boomed as vacant lots and abandoned buildings gave way to smart new offices, hotels and restaurants. But as the political honeymoon faded, Mr. Barry’s critics complained that conditions in the poorest black neighborhoods were deteriorating even as the mayor used the city government as an employment agency for his followers.

His detractors said he held on to power by cynically telling blacks that the only alternative to him was restoration of a quasi-colonial white power. Indeed, he exploited memories of the decades in which congressional chairmen, typically white Southerners, gave short shrift to the Washington beyond the gleaming edifices of the federal government.

Several people close to Mr. Barry were implicated in scandals. A deputy mayor was sent to prison for embezzling city funds. One of Mr. Barry’s former wives (he was married four times) went to prison for embezzling money from the job-training and antipoverty organization he had founded. When she was released, he found her another city job.

His defenders pointed to Washington’s unique situation as a city with no state to look to for financial aid, no heavy industry to tax and many tax-exempt government buildings. Many people who work in Washington commute from Maryland and Virginia and pay no District of Columbia taxes.

Part of Mr. Barry’s tenure coincided with a nationwide crack cocaine epidemic, and Washington’s poorest neighborhoods suffered as much as any in the country. At its nadir, Washington had both the highest infant mortality rate and the highest homicide rate of any city in the United States. Drugs were peddled openly on many corners, and homeless people slept on heating grates within sight of the White House. The Fire Department could handle only a single two-alarm blaze at a time.

Young black men fared badly year after year. One study found that by 1991, 42 percent of the district’s black men ages 18 to 35 were in prison, on probation or on parole, released on bond or sought by the police.

More and more middle-class people, black and white, fled to the suburbs after despairing of getting a good public education for their children, getting their garbage picked up or getting their streets plowed after snowstorms.

But the mayor seemed not to worry about such complaints, just as he seemed not to care about appearing to be hypocritical. In October 1986, for instance, he announced that he would convene a “D.C. drug summit” of experts to discuss the cocaine epidemic at a time when the mayor himself was rumored to be a user.

“I may not be perfect,” he said a month later, after his election to a third term, “but I am perfect for Washington.”

In January 1987, Mr. Barry went to Los Angeles for the Super Bowl game between the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos at the Rose Bowl. His detractors noted that while he was watching football and partying afterward in sunny Southern California, his constituents were being buried under a knee-deep snowfall that clogged Washington streets.

The mayor’s Super Bowl vacation was interrupted by a visit to a hospital. Mr. Barry said he had suffered a flare-up of his hiatal hernia. An associate said he had overdosed. There would be other medical crises in which he claimed exhaustion or indigestion and people close to him blamed alcohol or drugs.

But the mayor seemed immune to embarrassment. In early 1988, with the District of Columbia’s government slumping under debt and its payroll bloated, he led a delegation of 17 city officials to the Virgin Islands. The stated purpose of the junket was to help the islands’ officials overhaul their personnel system.

In 1989 Mr. Barry was called before a federal grand jury investigating whether a woman had sold drugs to city officials, including the mayor. He acknowledged having had a relationship with her but denied buying drugs.

He was arrested just as he was about to announce that he was running for mayor again. In 1990, after a two-month trial, he was convicted of one misdemeanor count of drug possession and acquitted of another misdemeanor. The jury could not agree on another 12 counts, including three felony charges that he had lied to the grand jury.

The verdict was a near-victory for Mr. Barry. Had he been convicted of a felony, he could not have sought office again. But in November 1990, Mr. Barry suffered the only electoral defeat of his career. As an independent, he finished third in a race for an at-large City Council seat.

After serving his sentence in a minimum-security prison in Virginia, he was easily elected to the City Council again in 1992.

In the 1994 Democratic primary for mayor, he defeated Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly, who had been unable in her single term to turn the city around, and several other candidates.

“Amazing grace, how sweet it sounds to save a wretch like me!” he exulted on the night of Sept. 13, 1994. In November, he cruised to victory over his Republican opponent.

But the problems that had dogged the city during his first three terms continued into his fourth. The government sagged under the weight of accumulated debt. The payroll remained heavy, even though the city’s population had been dwindling for years: While Mr. Barry was in office, the city lost 115,000 residents, leaving it with just over 520,000 in January 1999, the fewest since 1933. (By 2013, the district’s population had increased to about 646,000, according to the Census Bureau.)

In April 1995 an exasperated Congress created the District of Columbia Financial Control Board to oversee city spending. In August 1997, Congress stripped Mr. Barry of much of his remaining power, turning over nine major operating departments to the board.

Mr. Barry called the move a “rape of democracy.” Though he was now a figurehead, there was widespread speculation that he would try for still another term. But on May 21, 1998, he announced that he would not.

“For all of you who have supported me, I love you so much,” he said that day. “I love this city.” The control board shined a spotlight on Anthony A. Williams, a bow-tied number cruncher who had been credited with helping the city out of its mess as its chief financial officer. He was elected mayor in 1998 and served two terms marked by a more businesslike, if less colorful, approach to governing.

Although the trial on cocaine charges was Mr. Barry’s most serious encounter with the law, it was but one of many run-ins with the authorities. In July 2000 Mr. Barry was accused of shoving a female janitor in a restroom at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to community service.

In March 2002 he announced that he would run for City Council, but he withdrew after the United States Park Police found traces of crack cocaine and marijuana in his car, which was illegally parked, later that month. No charges were filed, and Mr. Barry said he had been framed.

Despite his clashes with the law, he won a City Council seat in 2004. The next year he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges for failing to file income tax returns for the year 2000. He was placed on probation for three years. Yet he continued to defy the Internal Revenue Service, neglecting for the next several years to file returns. He finally settled with the tax agency in 2009, saying that his failure to file had been the result of health problems.

He had no such excuse in 2010, when the City Council stripped him of a committee chairmanship and censured him for steering a consulting contract to a sometime girlfriend (who had once had him arrested for stalking her). Mr. Barry apologized for his “lack of sound judgment” on the contract.

Mr. Barry also showed lack of sound judgment as a motorist. In August 2014, after he was slightly injured in a crash while driving on the wrong side of the street, it was revealed that he had accumulated some $2,800 in fines for moving violations and parking infractions. He finally paid up.

Various theories have been advanced to explain how Mr. Barry survived scandals that made him a laughingstock for television comedians and would have destroyed lesser politicians. Writing in The New Yorker in 1994 about that year’s mayoral campaign, David Remnick observed that Mr. Barry’s flaws actually helped him, especially among impoverished black people who feared that white businessmen and other elitists were conspiring to take back the power that black Washingtonians had gained.

“No one has a more acute feeling for the divides of the city and their political possibilities than Marion Barry,” Mr. Remnick wrote after spending considerable time with the mayor on the campaign trail.

“What Barry grasps intuitively — and what comes as a shock to most whites — is the political potential of conspiracy thinking,” Mr. Remnick wrote. Indeed, years afterward, Mr. Barry blamed a racist conspiracy for his trial and imprisonment on cocaine charges. “They didn’t want me creating all of these opportunities for black folks,” he wrote in his autobiography, published by Simon & Schuster in June.

Co-written by Omar Tyree, “Mayor for Life” indulged in some revisionist history and selective amnesia. As Marc Fisher pointed out in reviewing the book for The Washington Post, Mr. Barry asserted at one point that news media reports of his womanizing “were all unfounded.” Yet a hundred pages later, Mr. Barry conceded that he “got involved with women who sometimes were not good for me.”

In an interview with The New York Times shortly after the book’s release, Mr. Barry denied that his personal troubles and run-ins with the law had hindered the progress he sought for the poorest Washington residents.

“I serve as an inspiration for those who are going through all kinds of things,” Mr. Barry said. “Whatever storm they’re going through, they can learn from me.”

Mr. Barry is survived by his wife, Cora Masters Barry, and his son, Marion Christopher Barry.

Like many successful politicians, Mr. Barry had a sizable ego. “God gave me this kind of gift,” he said to The Washington Post after his victory in the 2004 City Council election. “How good God is.”

What Mr. Barry bequeathed to Washington, and his motives, are likely to be debated for years.

“One reason he was so good at the political game, some of his friends thought, was because so little of it really meant anything to him,” David Halberstam wrote in “The Children” in 1998, about the early days of the civil rights movement. “He was largely free of causes, save his own. His agenda was always primarily about himself.”

But Mr. Fisher, in his review of Mr. Barry’s book, wrote that “no other mayor has come close to his achievement in providing first jobs for poor young black residents.” Nevertheless, Mr. Fisher added, “black poverty remains deeply entrenched in the District, and his administration had little to show for its efforts to curb crime or improve schools.”

Sam Smith, editor of The Progressive Review, who knew Mr. Barry since 1966, had a subtler perspective in the twilight of his public career:

“It’s like going out into a field and seeing an old rusting-out hulk of a car and trying to imagine what it was like when it was brand-new. What people are seeing now is that corroded shell of what Barry was, and if you don’t remember that, it’s very hard to see.”

Correction: November 23, 2014
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the position Anthony A. Williams held before being elected to succeed Mr. Barry as mayor of Washington in 1998. He had been the city’s chief financial officer — not chairman of the District of Columbia Financial Control Board.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

WORLD TELEVISION DAY: NOVEMBER 21, 2014

 

WORLD TELEVISION DAY

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) World Television Day is globally celebrated on November 21 each year.

Local names

Name Language
World Television Day English
Día Mundial de la Televisión Spanish
עולם יום הטלוויזיה Hebrew
اليوم العالمي للتلفزيون Arabic
세계 텔레비전의 날 Korean
Welttag des Fernsehens German

World Television Day 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

World Television Day 2015

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The United Nations’ (UN) World Television Day is annually observed in many places around the world on November 21. The day recognizes that television plays a major role in presenting different issue that affect people.

World Television Day helps people remember the beneficial purposes of television.

©iStockphoto.com/PhotoTalk

What do people do?

World Television Day is a day to renew governments’, organizations’ and individuals’ commitments to support the development of television media in providing unbiased information about important issues and events that affect society. News about World Television Day may be shared via print, online and broadcast media. Television and radio bloggers may write comments, editors may write in the editors’ columns, and writers, academics and journalists may write feature articles about the meaning behind this event.

Educational institutions may mark World Television Day on their calendars and educators may use this day as an opportunity to invite guest speakers to discuss media and communication issues relating to television. Discussion topics may include: how television promotes cultural diversity and a common understanding; the links between democracy and television; and the role of television in social, political and economic developments.

Public life

World Television Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

The UN acknowledges that television can be used to educate many people about the world, its issues and real stories that happen on the planet. Television is one of the most influential forms of media for communication and information dissemination. It is used to broadcast freedom of expressions and to increase cultural diversity.  The UN realized that television played a major role in presenting global issues affecting people and this needed to be addressed.

On December 17, 1996, UN General Assembly proclaimed November 21 as World Television Day to commemorate the date on which the first World Television Forum was held earlier that year. The UN invited all member states to observe the day by encouraging global exchanges of television programs focusing, among other things, on issues such as peace, security, economic and social development and cultural change enhancements.

Symbols

The UN logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, inscribed in a wreath consisting of crossed conventionalized branches of the olive tree. The olive branches symbolize peace and the world map depicts the area of concern to the UN in achieving its main purpose, peace and security. The projection of the map extends to 60 degrees south latitude, and includes five concentric circles.

World Television Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Fri Nov 21 1997 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sat Nov 21 1998 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 21 1999 World Television Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 21 2000 World Television Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 21 2001 World Television Day United Nations observance
Thu Nov 21 2002 World Television Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 21 2003 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 21 2004 World Television Day United Nations observance
Mon Nov 21 2005 World Television Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 21 2006 World Television Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 21 2007 World Television Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 21 2008 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sat Nov 21 2009 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sun Nov 21 2010 World Television Day United Nations observance
Mon Nov 21 2011 World Television Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 21 2012 World Television Day United Nations observance
Thu Nov 21 2013 World Television Day United Nations observance
Fri Nov 21 2014 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sat Nov 21 2015 World Television Day United Nations observance
Mon Nov 21 2016 World Television Day United Nations observance
Tue Nov 21 2017 World Television Day United Nations observance
Wed Nov 21 2018 World Television Day United Nations observance
Thu Nov 21 2019 World Television Day United Nations observance
Sat Nov 21 2020 World Television Day United Nations observance

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized