Mayor Barry Proposes Renaming Part of Mass. Ave. After Mandela

This is an interesting story from the 1980s. Mayor for life, and general embarrassment to the city of Washington, Marion Barry, proposed in 1985 to rename a portion of Massachusetts Ave. in front of the South African embassy after the jailed anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

Mayor Marion Barry and his wife Effi
Mayor Marion Barry and his wife Effi

We came across this article in The Baltimore Sun from July 3rd, 1985.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mayor Marion Barry, Jr., proposed yesterday that the two blocks in front of the South African Embassy be renamed in honor of anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela and his wife, Winnie.

Mr. Mandela, the banned African National Congress leader, was sentenced in 1964 to life in prison.

“For more than 20 years the Mandelas have been the subjects of oppression that has denied the basic rights that many of us take for granted,” Mayor Barry said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by while such oppression continues.”

Mayor Barry said the renaming of the two blocks of Massachusetts avenue “will send a clear message to the world that those of us who live in the nation’s capital fully fupport the effort to free Nelson and Winnie Mandela and all black South Africans.”

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • mrogersdc

    It always surprises me when people say “Mayor For Live.” He isn’t.

  • Al Pearis

    Proposed naming just 2 Blocks for a Hero. What is wrong with that?