H. Rap Brown stopped by the District Building yesterday to visit Mayor Marion Barry and, Barry said, "chat about old times and the movement."
In older times, Barry stood as a symbol in the nation's capital of angry black defiance of the status quo. Brown, a former Howard University student activist, was once a national symbol of violent black rebellion.
Yesterday, however, "Salaam Aleikum," the Arabic phrase meaning "may peace be upon you," were the first words spoken by Brown when he shook hands with a visitor while sitting in the office of mayoral press secretary Florence Tate.
Brown, a tall, lanky man, wore his hair in stringy dreadlocks, tucked beneath a bulky crocheted skullcap. "We're just here to see the people," Brown said, staring at a newspaper when he learned that the visitor was a reporter.
Brown currently is on parole from New York state prison where he served three years of a 5-to-15-year sentence stemming from his involvement in the robbery of a New York City cabaret in 1971.
Barry tried to persuade a photographer not to take pictures of Brown leaving the mayor's office. An aide said such photos would be a form of "sensationalism" aimed at "persecuting" Brown in the press.