There are many Black men and women responsible for Atlanta’s growth from post-Civil War southern outpost to the major American city that it is today. From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, to modern day pioneers like Atlanta Mayor, Ambassador Andrew Young and the city’s first female mayor, Shirley Franklin, the city has been led in many ways by many people. One of those people is Marvin “Bo Legs” Arrington, Sr. and his story is being told in the new documentary, Bo Legs, Marvin Arrington Sr., An Atlanta Story.
Minutes into the film former Atlanta Mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms and Shirley Franklin make appearances. Both were clear about Arrington, Sr.’s status among the city’s greats. “He should be celebrated,” said Lance Bottoms in the film. “His name should be called amongst the greatest of this city.”
“He was part of a major transition for a southern city,” said Franklin, Atlanta’s first female mayor.
The film’s director and writer Adelin Gasana remembers when he got the call from Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, Jr. about looking through his father’s keepsakes in hopes that there could be a film project on the senior Arrington’s life. There was more than enough information for a film. Much more. “For two and a half weeks I scoured all of Atlanta – Atlanta History Center, Woodruff Library, the University of Georgia’s media library- and I was blown away,” said Gasana, a South Florida native, during an interview with The Atlanta Voice. “I’m an archive junky and there was so much to dig into.”
“I’m just very glad we had the opportunity to do it,” Arrington, Jr. said about making the film during a recent interview with The Atlanta Voice. “It’s hard to squeeze 40-50 years into two hours.”
Marvin Arrington, Sr. helped shift and maintain the Atlanta we now know. Bo Legs tells the story of one of the two men to break the color barrier at Emory University Law School, the other being Federal Judge Clarence Cooper, in the 1960’s, on his way to becoming the longest-running Atlanta city council president in the city’s history. Arrington was also an influential part of the team that helped bring the Summer Olympic Games to Atlanta in 1990.
“By telling this story this film tells the story of Atlanta,” says Gasana, 35. “It’s a biographical documentary on a living legend, Atlanta-made, born and bred Grady baby.”
Gasana revealed that part of the angle of the film is that Arrington is partly unrecognized for his work in helping Atlanta grow. “He was there through it all, always on the scene,” said Gasana. “[Arrington] has a deep history and is as Atlanta as it gets.”
Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes is also among the people that make guest appearances in the film. “They knew him from the get go and have worked with him through the years,” Gasana said.
The film took two years to complete, according to Gasana. “We had fun getting this done,” Gasana said. “It’s really Arrington’s story. He believed in Atlanta, he’s a visionary.”
“There are so many more Atlanta stories to tell,” said Arrington, Jr.
How to watch Bo Legs
The documentary has made its way around the film festival circuit, including at the Montreal International Black Film Festival, Oakland International Film Festival, Urban Mediamakers Film Festival, Peachtree Village International Film Festival and the prestigious BronzeLens Film Festival. And Bo Legs is now available with a touch of a button or at 30,000 feet.
If you find yourself on a Delta Air Lines flight you will be able to watch Bo Legs as an in-flight movie. The documentary is being shown on all Delta flights at this time.
Bo Legs is also now available via major streaming services such as AppleTV, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play and YouTube Movies.
There will also be public screenings of Bo Legs at the Southwest Arts Center, Feb. 3; New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (Stonecrest), Feb. 4; The Gathering Spot, Feb. 7; South DeKalb Senior Center, Feb. 25; and at Clark Atlanta University, Feb. 27.