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Icon Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., first Atlanta City Council president, dies peacefully at home

ATLANTA – Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., who formerly served as president of the Atlanta City Council for 17 years and retired as a Fulton County Superior Court Judge, died at home this morning (July 5), his family announced. Mr. Arrington was surrounded by his loved ones at the time he passed away, his family stated in a release.

The transformative trailblazer, who helped to galvanize the city from a segregated town into an international metropolis, was 82.

The family said it will announce arrangements for Mr. Arrington Sr. after details have been finalized. The family did not release a cause of death.

A documentary, “Bow Legs,” was released in February 2023 that showcases the life of Marvin S. Arrington Sr. The premiere screening of the documentary was hosted and presented by the City of Stonecrest and the Stonecrest Film and Entertainment Commission on Feb. 4, 2023 at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the city of Stonecrest. “Bow Legs,” so named for Marvin Arrington Sr.’s marked walking trait, takes viewers through his incredible journey as a trailblazer. Arrington’s son, Marvin Arrington, Jr., who served as District 5 commissioner on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, attended the screening.

“We have lost an iconic figure who has left an indelible footprint in Atlanta. We are glad as a City that Stonecrest was able to release the historical documentary of his life. Our prayers are with the Arrington family,” said Stonecrest City Councilman Rob Turner, who heads the Stonecrest Film Commission.

Arrington Sr., graduated from Emory University Law School in 1967. He was elected to the Atlanta Board of Alderman (now called Atlanta City Council) in 1969 and became president in 1980.
In 1997, he ran for mayor of Atlanta but lost to Bill Campbell, who was incumbent at the time.
In 2002, he was appointed to Fulton County Superior Court Judge by then Gov. Roy Barnes. Arrington retired from the positio n in 2012.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens issued the following statement regarding the passing Marvin Arrington, Sr.

“Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place.”
That is what Marvin Arrington, Sr. titled his autobiography, and it could not have been more fitting.
Judge Arrington has passed and Atlanta has lost a lion.

I cannot, at this moment, think of a single person who loved Atlanta more than he loved us. And we will always be grateful that he indeed ‘wouldn’t stay in his place.’ If it is true that love ought to look like something, then Judge Arrington’s love of Atlanta came in the form of working hard to see his hometown grow into its greatness and pushing us to be better, to do better. Yet he never asked more of us than he was willing to give.
He was Atlanta through and through. A ‘Grady Baby,’ Judge Arrington graduated from Clark College and later became one of Emory University Law School’s first Black graduates. He served on the Atlanta Board of Aldermen, and later as president of the Atlanta City Council. He was an accomplished lawyer and Superior Court Judge.

I am honored to call him my Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity brother and I am honored to have known him as one of the exceptional leaders of Atlanta.

On behalf of this entire city, I am sending my sincere and heartfelt condolences to his son Marvin Jr., daughter Michelle, and the entire Arrington family. We pray that a merciful God grants you comfort and peace during this difficult period.”

The Atlanta City Council also expressed its condolences, issuing the following statement:

“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. He integrated Emory University Law School and was one of the first two Black students to graduate from the school. In the late 1960s, he was encouraged to run for the Atlanta Board of Aldermen at the tender age of 28. He won the seat, and in 1980, he was elected president of the Council, a position he honorably held for 17 years.

He made a positive difference in the lives of so many in our city. He leaves behind a legacy that will inspire future leaders to pursue fairness, justice, and create a truly meaningful impact in the community.

Our hearts go out to his family during this challenging time. His former wife, Marilyn, and his children, Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr., Esquire, and Michelle Arrington, Esquire, are in our thoughts and prayers.”

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