‘The social butterfly:’ Vendor Marcus Green passes at 60

marcus now

Marcus Green poses in his Negro Leagues Baseball jacket in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 4, 2020. Green’s loved ones remember him as a man who loved personal style. Photo courtesy of Eva McNabney.

Street Sense Media vendor and artist Marcus Green died April 2 — five days shy of his birthday. He would’ve been 61.

Green’s generosity and boisterous energy left impressions on those who knew him, including his three children, three grandchildren and long-term girlfriend.

Green’s family held a memorial service at the Palace nightclub in D.C. in April. The celebration — complete with a D.J. — honored Green’s fun-loving spirit. His older sister, Trina Mercer, described him as a “class clown.”

“The social butterfly, [he] would talk to anybody anywhere,” his daughter Markia Green said. “Even when he was joking, it was very loud. So, he drew a bunch of attention and he was embarrassing, but he was the most loving person I’ve ever met in my life.”

The Southeast Washington, D.C. native served in the U.S. Army in his early twenties before experiencing homelessness in adulthood. He began working as a vendor for Street Sense Media around 2010.

Marcus Green Army
Marcus Green poses for a military portrait after joining the service after high school. Photo courtesy of Markia Green.

Vendor Eric Thompson-Bey said Green was the reason he stayed at Street Sense Media in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The friends worked in the office as vendor program associates during that time, and Green showed him the ropes of the job.

Thompson-Bey knew Green growing up, but they didn’t become close until working together. Green — five years Thompson-Bey’s senior — called Thompson-Bey his nephew.

When Thompson-Bey had trouble cashing his first paycheck due to a missing ID, Green offered to loan him money.

Thompson-Bey described Green as a jack of all trades who could shape a hairline better than a barber. He remembers their morning phone calls and laughing together on the bus ride home from work.

“I wish I could ride the bus with him today,” Thompson-Bey said.“I think about him every morning I get up because I can’t call Marcus for a haircut anymore.”

Gerald Anderson also grew close with Green after he began vending for Street Sense Media. He admired Green’s drive. When new editions were released, Green would arrive before 5 a.m. to help unload papers from the truck. When vendors lined up for their papers to sell, he would keep Anderson laughing with jokes about cutting the line.

Anderson was hit hard by the loss.

“I feel like I’d just seen him and he went away that fast,” Anderson said.

He said he wants people to remember Green as a smart man who was friendly with everyone. He appreciated Green’s preaching and advice.
“If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be moving,” he said.

Green’s penchant for giving advice and his sense of purpose shine through his writings for Street Sense Media. His submitted works would offer guidance for avoiding bad influences or describe his passion for caring for animals as a “mission.”

He would take readers through his workout regimes or practices for self-betterment, describing PTSD classes or the “power, peace, and joy” he got from his girlfriend’s two cats. Green wrote often about finding inspiration and meaning in his daily life.

“My belief is that life means more if you put in work with a team instead of by yourself,” he wrote in 2020. “We feed off each other to be the best we can be.”

Markia Green remembers her father being honest about more serious matters of life.

“A very wise man — he had a way of delivering good or bad news in a way that didn’t ever sound too bad,” Markia Green said. “But he was very honest with us.”

marcus with markia
Marcus Green hugs his daughter, Markia Green, in a family polaroid from the 1980s. Photo courtesy of Markia Green.

Eva McNabney got to know Green while working in the Street Sense Media office as the director of vendor employment. She said the team supported each other through a “chaotic, emotionally taxing and intense time” during the summer of 2020.

The two would walk around town on the job and develop inside jokes. Green taught Baltimore native McNabney about the rivalry between Baltimore and D.C. and bought lottery tickets because he said she had good luck.

Green kept a strict schedule of wiping down surfaces in McNabney’s workspace. She described the practice as emblematic of Green’s care for others and keen sense of right and wrong.

“It was a gesture of care to be like ‘I take seriously the fact of your safety and I want to communicate that to you by showing you that I prioritize it,’” McNabney said.

McNabney remembers Green as a stylish man. She and Thompson-Bey would find him doing pushups to stay fit during downtime at work and he would talk about his appreciation for German shoes that grew out of his time stationed in the country.

“He was a sort of enigmatic, very positive presence,” she said.

In their time working together, Green would take time each day to feed birds in a practice he described as giving and receiving “blessings.”

“I feed the birds daily and I’m a dog lover. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” Green wrote in “A prayer for police reform” in 2021. “The luckiest people in the world are people who need people.”

Issues |Veterans

Region |Washington DC

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