In an old-fashioned hand-clapping, foot-stomping gospel concert in a Northeast Washington church last night, about 250 people gathered to help raise money for the Marion Barry Legal Defense Trust and offer encouragement as the mayor's drug and perjury trial enters its final days.
The 2 1/2-hour event at Israel Baptist Church drew Barry supporters from all over the metropolitan area to provide both financial and spiritual support for the mayor, whose trial in federal court enters its jury deliberation phase this week.
When it was over, Barry, who sat next to his wife, Effi, in the front row of the church during the concert, said he was "overwhelmed." He said an event such as last night's "gives me more strength. It makes you humble, but gratified."
Last night's concert was organized by Ministers in Action for the '90s, a group of local clerics concerned with issues of equality and justice. Robert Hamilton Jr., chairman of the organization, said after the event that "several thousand" dollars was raised for the defense trust. He said he couldn't give a more accurate figure because not all of the money had been counted.
Several area choirs and musical artists performed at the concert, and their songs often were punctuated by shouts from congregants, many of whom stood, waved and danced.
During a selection by the D.C. Mass Choir called "Jesus Is a Friend of Mine," singer Clifton Jones pulled the mayor out of his seat and led him in a few hops and skips of what the performer called "the victory step."
Later, Barry addressed the audience for about 15 minutes, telling them that "the end is near, but however it turns out, it's gonna be all right. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith."
Among those sitting alongside Barry last night were several area ministers, D.C. Council member and mayoral candidate Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) and council member Harry Thomas Sr. (D-Ward 5).
Jarvis said she attended the event because "I am a candidate for mayor, and I want to be known as a mayor of all the people."
Thomas said he attended not only because the concert was in his ward but because "Marion has supported me ever since I've been on the council, so I have to show respect for him."
Several of Barry's supporters said they had gone to federal court regularly during the trial. Tyrone Ford, 16, of Southeast Washington, said he met the mayor at the courthouse last week, and Barry invited him to last night's event.
Florence Smith, who has attended the trial since June 4, said she came to the concert because "I'm a full supporter of the mayor; I promised him I would be there until the end."