The Chief Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service, as well as the Seth Kirschenbaum Diversity Award.
In receiving his proclamation, Arrington expressed a deep passion for young people and giving them the training and mentorship needed to follow in his and other leaders’ footsteps. He said he believes imparting knowledge to younger generations is part of the solution in continuing the work that has been accomplished. “Give these young people a chance… Somewhere you have to pass the baton,” said Arrington. “The work has not been completed. We still need to do some things to make this great city.”
While serving as judge, Arrington took a particular interest in offering guidance to young African-American men through participation in lectures and events to raise awareness concerning the issues they encounter. He lamented that he is troubled about crime rates and describes it as ‘mind boggling.’
“The youth will lead us tomorrow,” said Arrington, in quoting a speech from Abraham Lincoln. “They will sit in these council seats. They will sit in legislature. They will sit in the Congress of the United States of America, so we have to make sure that we have a foundation in terms of where we’re going in this particular world in this country.
Another part of the solution to societal ills Arrington says is having greater consensus and working collaboratively on issues. He said he learned how to stay involved with the community, strategize, and make a difference under four mayors. “I see so much divisiveness now on the national level, the local level. I say to myself sometimes, can anybody get in a room and agree on some issue that’s going to make us a better country, a better city, and a better nation?” he said.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed offered praise to Arrington for his accomplishments while serving the city and said he can’t imagine Atlanta without Arrington. “You know that you’re not going to get away from us,” he told Arrington.
Reed stressed that those who work in public office simply want to be acknowledged for their sacrifices and choosing a career path that benefits the greater society. “Somewhere somebody is alive because of Judge Marvin Arrington. Somewhere there was a bridge built or a road paved because of Judge Marvin Arrington. Somewhere a family who doesn’t even know about it is sitting in the park having a picnic and enjoying themselves because Judge Marvin Arrington decided that the city would buy that and turn it into a park. Somebody is working in a job right now that is there because this man decided to provide economic development tax credits to attract that business. Very few people simply say thank you,” said Reed.
Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell echoed Reed’s commendations to Arrington and became emotional in his remarks. “The great theologian Howard Thurman challenged all would-be Morehouse men to go and grow tall enough to wear the crown that Morehouse places above our head. Every day, every moment that I serve as City Council president, and certainly when times I’m standing here presiding over meetings, I think about that wonderful quote and I think about Marvin. Because everyday I stand here I try to grow tall enough to grasp the gavel of leadership that you have placed above my head as City Council president. You are my hero,” said Mitchell.
With his daughter Michelle Arrington, his son, Marvin Arrington Jr., and other family members and colleagues at his side, Arrington graciously accepted the recognitions.
In addition to spending time with his family and traveling, during his retirement Arrington says he plans to write a second book called “Being Black on the Bench. He published his first book in 2008 titled “Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place.”
Arrington petitioned for a re-commitment to Atlanta to help it become a “better city.” He quoted civil rights activist Vernon Jones to rouse a call for action – “If you see a good fight – get in it.” Still fiery 70-year-old Arrington has indeed fought a good fight.