By KENYA KING (www.atlantadailyworld.com)
Hailed as a hero by the one of his protégés, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin S. Arrington Sr. will retire on Feb. 18, 2012, after 43 years in public service. “To have had the privilege of serving the city, it makes me feel so good about what we have accomplished and where we’re going,” said Arrington. “I still think Atlanta is one of the greatest cities in the country.”
Arrington began his career in public service in 1969 in his late 20′s when he was elected to the Atlanta Board of Alderman, now the Atlanta City Council. He became Atlanta’s longest-serving City Council president, from 1981 until 1996.
The City of Atlanta recently honored Arrington with a proclamation and an award for his contributions to the city. “There is no word in Webster’s dictionary that could adequately express my profound appreciation for this particular recognition,” said Arrington.
Known for his no-holds-barred leadership style, Arrington stated that he was able to be effective in governance for so long because of his take-charge method of leading and not being afraid to take a stand on issues.
“People need to lead, follow or get out the way,” he said. “There are still some more fights out here. We still need to fight to make sure these public schools are in the shape where they need to be. The council is not over the Atlanta Board of Education, but we are a part of it,” said Arrington.
As one of the first African Americans to graduate from Emory University’s School of Law, Arrington utilized his legal dexterity and platform in public office to initiate positive changes for African Americans in the South. In 1970, he sued the Georgia State Bar, along with the American Civil Liberties Union, bringing attention to a potentially flawed system of which an inordinate number African Americans were disenfranchised due to not passing the State Bar exam. Following the suit, African Americans began to pass the exam, although the case was not won.
Arrington also set precedence in office when he spearheaded legislation to remove “white” and “colored” signs over water fountains in Atlanta City Hall and other places in Atlanta city government.
The Georgia Bar Association later awarded Arrington their most prestigious community service award,