Atlanta pioneer and distinguished public servant Marvin Arrington, Sr. transitioned Wednesday, according to his family. Arrington was 82 years old. The Atlanta native is famously known for breaking the color barrier as one of the first two Black students admitted into Emory University Law School in 1965, along with former federal Judge Clarence Cooper. Arrington would go on to have a long legal career, serve on the city’s Board of Alderman which was the city’s representative body before converting to City Council, and was later appointed to the Fulton County Superior Court by then Governor Roy Barnes in 2002.
During his long career of public service Arrington spent nearly two decades as Atlanta City Council president.
Arrington represented Atlanta from the very beginning of his life, attending high school at Henry McNeal Turner High School before matriculating to what was then known as Clark College (Clark Atlanta University) on a football scholarship.
Following news of Arrington’s passing, a statement from Atlanta City Council read in part, “The Atlanta City Council mourns the passing of Marvin S. Arrington Sr., a man of exceptional leadership who served as both Council president and a Fulton County Superior Court judge. He excelled in both roles and always demonstrated a strong commitment to public service. Judge Arrington’s life serves as an inspiration to the community.
“The city and metro region lost a giant today,” said Adelin Gasana, director of “Bo Legs, Marvin Arrington Sr., An Atlanta Story ,” a documentary on Arrington, Sr.’s life and times. “His life and work is a testament to how much we can give back and take part in building our community. I was fortunate to be asked to document his story on film. It was a rewarding and inspiring journey that I will always cherish.”
Arrington was also an influential part of the team that helped bring the Summer Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1990. Atlanta remains the last American city to host a Summer Olympic Games in 1996.
Arrington is survived by his son, Marvin Arrington, Jr., his daughter, Michelle Arrington and ex-wife Marilyn Arrington.