Marion S. Barry Jr., a sharecropper’s son and civil rights pioneer who became a flamboyant and polarizing mayor of Washington, went to prison on cocaine charges and then recaptured City Hall in one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of American politics, died early Sunday in Washington. He was 78.
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.
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.
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