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Posted at 05:56 AM ET, 11/09/2009

Marion Barry's mother dies

By Tim Craig
D.C. Council member Marion Barry's mother, Mattie Cummings, died early Sunday morning in her hometown of Memphis, Tenn. She was 92.

Barry (D-Ward 8), who served four terms as mayor of the District, announced the death in a statement sent to reporters Sunday night. The statement did not mention a cause of death.

"As Mr. Barry reflects on the joys of his mother's life, he asks that you keep him and his family in your prayers," the statement said.

Mattie Cummings was born in Yazoo, Miss., in 1917. Barry's father, a farm laborer, died unexpectedly when Marion Barry was four years old.

In a 1978 Washington Post article, Mattie Cummings spoke of how she moved with her son and his sister to Memphis a year after her husband's death. She remarried and gave birth to three more children. The large family was crowded into a small, four-room "shotgun-house" in the south Memphis slums, the article states.

After Barry launched his political career in Washington, his deeply religious mother frequently traveled to the city to support him. She stood with Barry when he was first inaugurated mayor in 1979. In 1991, after Barry was forced to leave office following his conviction for drug possession, Cummings was one of the last people to see him before he entered prison. When Barry was sworn in for his fourth term as mayor in 1995, Cummings was again at his side.

"It is a blessing to be alive to see the things that he has been able to do for his people," Cummings was quoted as saying a decade ago at a party in honor of her son at the MCI Center (now Verizon Center).

The statement issued by Barry Sunday night said funeral services are planned for Saturday. More details will be released in the coming days.

By By Tim Craig  |  05:56 AM ET, 11/09/2009

Categories:  Tim Craig, Tim Craig, Tim Craig

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