Marion Barry makes surprise appearance at Clinton – Nunn – Carter rally

Former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry made a surprise appearance on Friday at a rally for Democratic candidates Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter. (KATIE LESLIE / KLESLIE@AJC.COM)
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Former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry made a surprise appearance on Friday at a rally for Democratic candidates Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter. (KATIE LESLIE / KLESLIE@AJC.COM)
Former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry made a surprise appearance on Friday at a rally for Democratic candidates Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter.

Former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry made a surprise appearance on Friday at a rally for Democratic candidates Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter.

A rally for Democratic candidates Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter featuring former President Bill Clinton drew a political star-studded crowd on Friday in Atlanta.

But in a room where Clinton was king, a surprise appearance by another political legend turned more than a few heads: former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry.

Barry, an infamous but popular leader known for a 1990 video depicting crack cocaine use, was a last minute addition to the guest list that also featured Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed as a speaker.

The current D.C. councilman said he flew to Atlanta this week for an event with the recently-launched “MQ Magazine.” He learned last night of Friday’s rally and decided to attend, he said.

For the embattled leader who served four-terms as D.C.’s mayor, periods marked at-times with controversy and scandal, the event at Paschal’s in downtown Atlanta was a reunion with friends from the civil rights era.

Long before he rose to prominence in Washington political circles, Barry was a civil rights activist who worked alongside former Ambassador Andrew Young, Congressman John Lewis and C.T. Vivian, all of whom also attended Friday’s rally. Paschal’s was a regular meeting spot for members of the civil rights movement.

“A lot of memories here, a lot of history,” he said. “…I’m right at home. I’m like a rabbit in a briar-patch.”

» MORE: Bill Clinton rallies Dems for Nunn, Carter