Following is a transcript of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's announcement last night on his political future, as broadcast over WHMM-TV (Channel 32) and WHUR-FM Radio:
Good evening. I chose to speak to you from WHMM, Howard University's television station, for a number of reasons -- some symbolically and other practically.
Symbolically, I wanted to come to an institution in the minority community such as Howard University. Moreover, I'm a product of two historically black institutions -- Le Moyne-Owen College and Fisk University. And to them I'm eternally grateful for the foundations which they gave me.
This television station represents both educational and economic potential for the African American community. Furthermore, we're at a period where economic and political parity are extensions of the civil rights movement.
On the practical side, I chose to speak from the privacy of a television studio because I wanted to communicate with you intimately, and close up; to give you my full time and attention, without the distractions by some members of the media who would be rude and disrespectful. I wanted you to be free to concentrate fully on what I was saying.
Before I share with you my decision about my political campaign, let me take you back to Jan. 21 of this year. On that day I announced to you that I was going away to attempt to heal my mind, my body and my soul. Believe me, no one felt the disappointments, the anger, the hurt, the anguish and shame more than me.
On the other hand, though, I carried with me feelings of faith and hope -- faith in a loving and forgiving God, and hope for my recovery. I had succumbed to a disease that affects millions of Americans, but which is misunderstood by far more. We've just begun to treat dependence on alcohol and on mood-altering chemicals as an illness. And some still think that it's not such.
Some think it's just a matter of exercising pure will. They do not know that instead it requires the mind and the body coming together with the spirit to find joy and happiness.
And those of you who believe in a higher power, as I do, know that faith always sees us through. I've come back to Washington a more complete person, a more content person, a more sensitive person and a more humble person. I've had a spiritual awakening, and thus I've renewed my contact with a higher power I know is God.
I've come to realize that I cannot neglect the spiritual side of my life -- that as I take one day at a time, I must take it with God as my guide.
I've also learned in the recovery program that an individual who has a dependency on alcohol or other substances hurts not only himself but his family and his friends.
For me, however, this has not been just a situation involving one individual and his personal family -- in my case, my extended family, those of you who live in Washington and in the nation -- all of you have been drawn into my private struggle. As I move along in my recovery, I have to think of how to help everyone -- myself, my primary family and my extended family -- to recover too.
Now is a time for healing for me personally and for you politically. And whatever I can do to help you heal, I'm willing to do it. I'm willing to go to any lengths.
Now many of my supporters and political polls have indicated that if I were to run, I could win. But what good does it do to win the battle if in the process I lose my soul? And in my heart I believe it's time for me to serve you, and God, in other ways.
Therefore, tonight I'm announcing that Marion Barry will not be a candidate for reelection for my fourth term.
I know for a number of you this is as emotional an announcement as it is for me. Many of you are saddened. Many are disappointed, hurt, and probably some of you are very angry. On the other hand, many of you who have been supporters over the years also feel relieved.
I too share all these feelings, but I also feel joy and gratitude because you allowed me to serve you for over 30 years.
This service has been difficult at times, but believe me, my friends, it's been a labor of love. We've come a long way together in this city. Instituting great things for the city. Many of you showed just how much you care, and just how much I meant to you when I left this city in January.
You showed me that you have achieved the major pride through my efforts. Through your letters and calls to me, to my wife and to my staff, you talked about how Marion Barry created jobs for the young people of our city, and about the specific programs that our elderly benefited from -- programs that gave our seniors quality meals and health care and fellowship.
You wrote to me as businessmen who had been kept out of the economic mainstream. You told me you could now participate, that minority business is on the move as never before in Washington, D.C. You let me know that Washington is a place to come and work and do business, a place to have a good living.
You let me know also you were proud renters and homeowners through the innovative housing programs we put in place for low- and moderate-income people here in our city.
Many of you wrote to me also saying that my administration was making Washington, D.C., an international business capital, and a welcome and hospitable place for big business. You've thanked me for getting our fiscal house in order, our budgets balanced, our tax refunds mailed, the streets and alleys cleaned, the open spaces beautified -- but more importantly, always looking out for those who've been kept out, locked out and shut out; the least among us.
And in the area I felt most weak, in my personal struggle with pain and dependency, you helped me to find strength. You sent me your prayers, your magnanimous understanding. You talked about your own fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, your sons and daughters, your cousins, your grandparents, friends and relatives who are struggling with the disease of alcoholism or dependency on other mood-altering chemicals.
Some of them have put the struggle behind them years ago. Others were on the road to recovery. And many others were looking for the courage to seek help. You've sent me a collective strength and showed our love for each other. And for that I will be eternally grateful.
I'm proud to say to you tonight with the grace of God, and a good treatment program, today is my 145th day clean of any chemicals. For some, that's a short time. For those of us in the recovering community, it's a long time. I continue to try to keep this achievement -- one day at a time.
In terms of my decision, I know many of you probably feel that my decision not to seek reelection is the wrong thing for me to do. But I hope you will let go of your strong feelings and believe that my announcement tonight is the best thing for me personally, best for my family -- that is my wife and son -- and also for my beloved city, that I respect so deeply. I've prayed on this, and I think it's the best decision.
Let me say to you in strong terms, this decision is not related to my legal situation. It is related to my recovery and to what I know is best for my wife and son, who've suffered so long from this ordeal.
My friends, I have a vision for this city. And so I ask you to trust me. Accept my word that stepping aside now is good for our city.
Why do I feel this way? For the past seven years, newspapers and radio and television reporters have been obsessed with the personal life and activities of Marion Barry. For the past seven years, members of my Cabinet and the entire D.C. government have worked hard to be responsive and responsible.
Your government has been trying to get the press to focus on the positive programs of government, not solely on this mayor. When we announce new programs or break ground for new facilities, we can barely get coverage. Instead, the various media have focused on the negatives of D.C. government and the latest rumors surrounding my personal life. I'm not placing blame. I'm merely stating facts.
Also, the candidates who've announced for political offices in the District, particularly those who are running for mayor, have not been able to address the issues to the full time and attention of you all because of the distraction that my personal situation has caused.
The shadow of these circumstances should be removed so the process of election of government can proceed with the highest priority it deserves. The focus must be turned to critical issues such as homelessness, poverty, health care, boarder babies, drug addiction, education, an overburdened criminal justice system and the pending financial crisis.
If I do not step completely out of consideration at this point, you will not have the opportunity to gather information to make educated choices in the September primary and the November general election.
I want to assure you, though, that even though I'm not seeking reelection, I'm not abandoning my commitment to the city. I've not forsaken you. I've been reminded over and over that God is not through with me yet. And in my heart I believe that it's time for me to serve God and you in other ways.
Those of you who've read Corinthians know that love suffers long and is kind, that God is a loving god who waits for us to turn to Him to take His hand. Also I find strength in Paul when he said we are troubled on every side yet not distressed, we're perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed. I've searched deep for these answers and I believe I have the right ones.
There are those who said I should resign, but to do so would throw the city in such political turmoil and do violence to the process that it would take years for us to recover.
It's already less than 90 days before the primary and about six months before a new administration takes office. Given this short time frame, it would be disruptive to government if I were to resign. I know my announcement today will go a long ways toward lifting the shadows from the candidates who've thrown their hats in the ring.
There are those who believe that my stepping aside would mean political recession and regression for our city. I don't agree. You are among the most sophisticated and brightest voters in the country. Your consciousness has been raised and there is no way that you would allow anyone to take us backward. No one can turn us around. No one can stop the forward progress of the Barry administration.
I say to my supporters, keep your heads high. You are remarkable people. You have the strength of David, the courage of Elijah, the wisdom of Solomon, the joy of Esther, the foresight of Jeremiah, the patience of Job, the faith of Abraham, and the vision of Joseph.
We are strong; we are capable. And each day we're finding more that unifies us than that which divides us. I pray that we will continue to come together -- black and white, Jew and gentile, old guard and new guard, nonbeliever and true believer, young and old, rich and poor -- to accept each other, make a place for each other, protect each other and make our city, and someday our state, a model for the nation, and indeed for the world to follow.
I hope that you clearly understand that the decision which I have announced is my personal decision. No one forced me into it. I made this decision with the benefit of your strength and three decades of service to you.
In Ecclesiastes we read, for everything there is a season and a time to purpose under the heavens: a time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away.
Tonight, it's time to cast away.