Atlanta community remembers Judge Marvin Arrington Sr., share stories of his life

ATLANTA — A longtime Atlanta political leader and icon died July 5. Judge Marvin Arrington Sr. passed away after a long career of public service and education at the age of 82.

He was honored for his contributions by members of the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Atlanta residents from many walks of life.

As part of his memorial, Arrington was laid in state at Atlanta City Hall.

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Thursday, inside the city council chambers named after him in the past, Atlanta leaders who shared their journeys and time with Arrington shared memories of him and his life.

Friday, hundreds came together at Ebenezer Baptist Church to remember Arrington, the longest-serving city council president in city history, and a superior court judge.

Channel 2′s Richard Elliot heard from former mayors and former governors who gathered and shared stories of how integral Arrington was to the City of Atlanta.


Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes described Arrington as a ray of hope, saying as a judge he was committed to knowing those in the courtroom.

“He relied on street sense,” Barnes said. “And he knew the defendants better than anybody that I have ever seen.”

Arrington served as Atlanta City Council President for 17 years, before Barnes appointed him to the Fulton County Superior Court. Barnes said he was a natural.

A colleague of Arrington’s, Leah Ward Sears was a former chief justice while he sat the bench.

The former chief credited Arrington for helping her ascend to the highest court role in Georiga.

“I for example, believe that I would have never become Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court if Marvin Arrington and others like him hadn’t paved the way,” she said.

Former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young also paid tribute to Arrington. He told an until-now unknown story of when late pop star Michael Jackson was wrongly arrested while visiting Atlanta.

Jackson, according to Young, was arrested at a Peachtree Street jewelry store. Young had Arrington handle the incident to help the city avoid embarrassment while it was trying to win hosting rights for the Summer Olympics.

Young said Arrington “deftly” made the story go away.

“There were probably another thousand things that he did that nobody ever gave him credit for,” Young said.

Tributes to Arrington continue tomorrow, where the Lindsay Street Baptist Church will hold a screening of “Bo Legs: Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., an Atlanta Story,” a documentary about the late judge’s life.

The screening will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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