"He was just five years old when Mattie Barry, seeking a fresh start in life, moved north with her son and two older daughters to Memphis. . . . Her husband had been killed a year earlier in Itta Bena. Neither Marion Barry, Jr., nor his mother, who now lives in Memphis, will talk about the father or his untimely death, which, half a century later, still hangs like a dark, mysterious cloud over the family's past."
Was Marion Barry's father lynched in 1940? If so, why has the opportunistic Barry kept so uncharacteristically quiet about it? A lynching in the family would be pure gold for such a master of the politics of racial victimization. Why has no reporter, including the author of this book, unearthed the facts surrounding the elder Barry's death? True, lynchings are never recorded as such, not even in the Mississippi Delta of fifty years ago, but somebody ought to be able to find out something. And if some members of the media know what happened but won't say, why won't they?
This is just one intriguing point in a riveting book that reads like a black version of Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars, starring Marion Barry as Tiberius in a baseball cap and a blue velour jogging suit, lolling on beds on tropical afternoons, smacking his lips over dusky Caribbean beauties while his modern Rome on the Potomac goes to rack and ruin.
Marion Barry is disgusting beyond belief, but...