Marion Barry’s Heirs Sue His Kidney Donor


Kim Dickens gave her close friend–colorful former Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry–a kidney.

What she didn’t expect in return was a lawsuit.

Barry’s widow, Cora Masters Barry–who controls his estate–is suing Dickens to stop using Barry’s likeness in promotional materials for her foundation. Marion Barry died in November 2014.

Dickens, who gave Barry one of her kidneys in 2009, claims on the foundation’s website that the Marion Barry-Kim Dickens Kidney Foundation was founded together by both herself and Barry–and that her use of his image is completely reasonable. The Barry-Dickens Kidney Foundation encourages organ donation–the kind of work that helped keep Barry alive.

Barry’s estate left only $16,000 in assets, along with an open ethics investigation. The lawsuit makes no mention of monetary damages, but Masters Barry has been keeping a tight leash on who is able to use her late husband’s image.

Barry, who was the self-proclaimed Mayor-for-Life of Washington, D.C., held the mayorship from 1979 to 1991, and again from 1995 to 1999. At the time of his death, he was a city councilman.

He was also, famously, weathered a number of political and personal scandals. Most famously, he was arrested in 1990 by the FBI, after a sting caught him purchasing and using crack cocaine on video. Barry’s ex-girlfriend was used as a confidential informant, leading Barry to utter the infamous quote: “B*tch set me up.”

Despite his scandals, he remained a titan in Washington, D.C.–and D.C.’s African-American community in particular–until his death.

Adam Campbell is a former military brat, who grew up all over the world--but considers Milwaukee, WI, where he and his wife currently live, to be his home. He enjoys reporting the real news, without bias.