Josephine Dorothy Butler, a tireless advocate for D.C. statehood who died recently, is being remembered by city leaders past and present as a determined activist who spent her life fighting to empower residents of the city.

Butler, 77, former chairman of the D.C. Statehood Party, touched lives from Meridian Hill to Capitol Hill. Those who knew her best wanted to make sure her death wasn't "eclipsed" by those of D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke and Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke.

"Jo Butler was on the cutting edge of every worthwhile movement in America over in the last 30 years," said D.C. Council member Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1), who was one of the speakers at an April 9 memorial service at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Northwest Washington.

The tribute was scheduled to coincide with the birthday of peace activist and singer Paul Robeson, who died in 1976. Butler was co-founder of the Paul Robeson Friendship Society, and she worked to break down barriers between people in the United States and what was then the Soviet Union.

The memorial service at St. Augustine, where Butler had been a parishioner, was filled with people -- including former mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly -- who were drawn by Butler's long association with Washington.

Butler had been co-chairman of Friends of Meridian Hill, a community group that transformed a filthy patch along 16th Street into Meridian Hill/Malcom X Park. During Earth Day 1994, President Clinton called the group, "a shining example for the nation."

"During the last six years of her life, she brought all of her life's concerns together in a forgotten, formerly crime-ridden park that she help transform into a place of peace and hope," said Steve Coleman, president of the Friends of Meridian Hill.

As a young woman, Butler moved to Washington from Prince George's County. She went to work in a laundry and became involved in a movement to unionize laundry workers.

Butler once said that she was blacklisted from government employment in 1949 because of what were regarded as left-wing associations.

She left the Democratic Party in 1968 after the police violence at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. In 1971, she became a founder of the D.C. Statehood Party.

In 1995, she organized 4,000 people from Adams-Morgan to participate in the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, an event at which she addressed the crowd.

Statehood activist Mark Thompson said Butler set an example for other activists in the city. "This community would do well to follow in her footsteps on behalf of those fighting for full self-determination for the District of Columbia," he said.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, there will be an Earth Day Celebration of Butler's life at Meridian Hill/Malcom X Park, at 16th and Florida Avenue NW. Stirring Up the NAACP

The Rev. Morris L. Shearin, president of Washington's chapter of the NAACP, has been working to fire up an organization that for years has been silent on many issues affecting District residents.

Now outspoken community activists, including the Rev. Imagene B. Stewart, Umoja Party founder Mark Thompson and Ward 7 community activist Julius Ware, have become involved with the NAACP, and Shearin is trying to keep everyone in the family happy.

It isn't easy. Thompson accused Ware of using the nonpartisan organization to further the interests of one candidate, Howard Croft, in the heated Ward 6 council race after Ware alleged that Thompson had used NAACP computers to help another candidate, Archbishop George Augustus Stallings Jr. of the Imani Temple African American Catholic Congregation.

"This has nothing to do with individuals," Ware said. "The future of the D.C. branch of the NAACP shouldn't be jeopardized by anyone. We need to maintain our nonpartisan position."

But there is nothing nonpartisan about what Ware did, said Thompson, the chairman of the NAACP Political Action Committee. "It is clear to me and other board members that the Howard Croft campaign was threatened by my appointment as the political action chairman of the NAACP.

"Someone in the Croft campaign informed me that the letter calling for {an emergency meeting to discuss the controversy} and the allegations against me were written on the computer at the Croft campaign office," Thompson said. "I sent a message back to those involved that it would not be wise for Howard's own credibility to try and wage the Ward 6 campaign within the NAACP."

Thompson accused Ware of violating the NAACP charter by playing politics. He said his only role in the Ward 6 campaign as chairman of the political action committee is to plan the candidates forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Union Temple Baptist Church. The forum will be aired on WOL-AM (1450).

"The NAACP has always been an organization of activists," said Shearin, who said he welcomes debate in the organization. "A lot of people in the NAACP had become complacent, but it's a new day at the NAACP." Shabazz Pinched on Campus

Unity Nation founder Malik Zulu Shabazz was arrested at Howard University on Saturday after he violated a university order banning him from the campus to pass out fliers for a coming event.

"I was passing out fliers for a lecture, and I was arrested" by campus police, said Shabazz, who has been banned from Howard since 1994.

As a law student, Shabazz organized a controversial "Black Holocaust" rally in 1994 that featured Khallid Abdul Muhammad, a Nation of Islam figure accused of antisemitism, and other black nationalists.

Critics of the event called it a public expression of hate that produced racially charged rhetoric. Shabazz, whose Unity Nation is an offshoot of the Nation of Islam, said Howard officials decided to suppress free speech because, "whites and Jews" complained about the event.

"The students deserve to hear all points of view," said Shabazz, who plans to go to the campus with Muhammad at noon Monday to challenge the ban. "I am a two-time alumni of this school. This really hurts me.

"It is immoral that they banned me from the university and all campus properties because white and Jewish groups don't like the organizing that I did on the campus and the stands that I continue to take for black people."