The reaction of a sampling of black elected officials and academics to the outcome of the drug and perjury trial of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry ranged from a belief that the jury recognized and largely rejected a racist federal inquiry to a concern that the "common moral consensus" between the races "about what is right and wrong" could be damaged.

Shelby, Miss., Mayor Robert Gray said "the jury verdict was a just verdict. They determined that it {the sting operation in the Vista Hotel} was entrapment." The Republican-controlled Justice Department, he said, "seems to go a little overboard when a black is involved. . . . I wouldn't say it was total racism, but that played a role in it."

The trial, Gray said, served to "create a mistrust between one race and another."

NAACP Executive Director Benjamin L. Hooks said the jury's inability to reach verdicts on 12 of the 14 charges against Barry "demonstrates the contradiction inherent in a case in which the government goes to unprecedented lengths to entrap one individual on charges having to do with his alleged personal misconduct."

Glenn C. Loury, a professor of political economics at Harvard's Kennedy School, said he followed the case closely and was unsurprised by the verdict. "There was room enough there for a juror who didn't want to convict the mayor to see their way clear," but he rejected suggestions of racist motivations on the part of the prosecutors.

"I think the behavior and circumstances were such that anybody could be expected to be pursued," he said. Loury, who is viewed as a conservative in some quarters, argued that the Barry case raises major issues for the black community.

"The drug problem, unwed motherhood, criminal violence. . . . We have a segment of black society that is beset with tremendous problems," he said. If these problems are politicized as grievances against the white community, by, for example, suggesting that AIDS, the drug epidemic and federal investigations are the result of anti-black conspiracies by whites, Loury said, it makes it more difficult for individuals going through the kind of difficulties experienced by Barry to deal with the "necessity to come to grips with personal culpability, to face up to personal failure, confront it, and overcome it."

At the same time, Loury suggested that the widely divergent views of some blacks and whites over such racially tinged issues as the Barry case, the Central Park jogger rape case in New York and other events raise the danger of further deterioration of "the ability for us as a community to share in a common understanding about what constitutes moral outrage. . . . Instead of a common moral standard, the question becomes whose ox is being gored."

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a former civil rights worker and head of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, said, "There is a need for the city for this sad chapter to be put behind us; there is a need to restore better relations between the District government and Capitol Hill."

Lewis declined to say whether he thinks Barry should seek office again -- "It's up to the voters of the city" -- but he indicated that the best course might be for Barry to withdraw and for federal prosecutors not to revive the case. "It would be in the best interest of the city, for relations between Congress and the District, for this chapter to be behind us."

William Julius Wilson, professor of sociology at the University of Chicago and one of the nation's foremost specialists on poverty among black urbanites, said that in the short run, the outcome of the trial "will reinforce some of the negative feelings on the part of whites toward blacks." Expressions of support for Barry will be perceived as a "double standard" in which a public official is exonerated by some of his black constituents for actions that might not be forgiven if the perpetrator were white, he said.

In the long run, however, anti-black feeling among whites will dissipate as "people will remember that Barry" was involved "in a number of embarrassing situations" that were made public, Wilson said.

While noting that he does not want to imply that Barry should be excused for what he described as activities "embarrassing to him, embarrassing to the city and embarrassing to the black community," Wilson said, "my own reaction" is that "I'm more upset with Oliver L. North." Wilson said what North did was far more "harmful" that what Barry did, but North "gets off scot-free."

Former Army secretary Clifford Alexander, a bitter critic of Barry, said, "As a mayor, he has been a thoroughgoing disappointment, and as a role model, even worse."

Alexander said that Barry's difficulties will be seen more as the failings of an individual than as grist for whites to use to intensify racial stereotypes, but he attacked what he called Barry's "playing to feelings of race and religion that really had nothing to do with what he was tried for."

Jesse L. Jackson, who has twice sought the Democratic presidential nomination and is now a candidate for the post of "shadow" senator for the District, said that as a friend of Barry's, "I hope the people have a redemptive spirit toward him."Staff writer Maralee Schwartz contributed to this report.