Written in spring 2008. One of the first articles of this sort that I wrote was about Marvin in 2008. Arrington & Hollowell Law Firm had been a client of First Class, Inc. for several years. Having written press releases and assisted with campaigns for more than 10 years, I saw this man worry about his career as a politician and as the senior partner at the law firm. He wore his legacy – coming from grass-roots Atlanta – on his heart. As a sitting judge, sometimes with a baseball bat, Atlanta is better off because he served.
Marvin Stephens Arrington, Sr. wears the term “Atlantan” like no other man I know. As a matter of fact, if you live in Atlanta and you don’t know something about whom and what Marvin Arrington is, you just don’t know from whence Atlanta came — and you certainly don’t appreciate the Atlanta which we currently call home. Born at Grady Hospital on February 10, 1941, to George Robert and Maggie Andrews Arrington, Marvin spent his early years in the Summerhill community. His family moved to Grady Homes for a while; and when his father hit the numbers, the family bought a home on Neal Street in Northwest Atlanta. He attended E.R. Carter, English Avenue and Herndon Elementary Schools (moving from school to school due to over-crowded conditions and other ills of segregation). He graduated from Turner High School in 1959 and attended Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) on a football scholarship. Following graduation from college, he entered Howard University Law School; and after one year, transferred to Emory University School of Law as one of the first Black students to integrate this institution, where he earned the J. D. degree in 1967.
As one of Atlanta’s premier attorneys, Arrington was the founding partner of Arrington and Hollowell; and he teamed up with Donald L. Hollowell, a prominent civil rights attorney, to build one of Atlanta’s most successful integrated law firms. He was an active partner at Arrington & Hollowell in the 1990s and was a catalyst for change in downtown business and political leadership circles as Atlanta broke free from its southern segregated traditions to become a great international city with a bustling African American population determined to succeed.
Marvin Arrington, “Bo Legs” as his close friends affectionately call him, was elected to the City of Atlanta Board of Aldermen (now the Atlanta City Council) in l969; and later was elected president of the Atlanta City Council where he served for more than twenty-five years. While on the City Council Arrington’s astounding record includes, but is by no means limited to, the following accomplishments. He introduced legislation to support federal prohibition against housing discrimination and ensured aggressive enforcement of state and federal housing laws designed to stabilize transitional neighborhoods. He brought together Atlanta mortgage lenders to establish the Fair Lending Practices Action Committee to help fight discriminatory mortgage loan practices. He appointed the first woman to chair the cities powerful finance committee and he championed the retention and proper funding for Zoo Atlanta. He initiated measures to require that all city council and standing committee meetings be recorded and kept on file by the city clerk. He forced postponement of construction on the Omni Arena until its builders and unions agreed to initiate a program to train African Americans in the construction trades. Arrington vacated his seat as president of the council in 1997 to run for mayor against Bill Campbell. Some folks still believe that Atlanta would have been a better city if Marvin has won this race. (We leave this opinion to your judgment.)
Leaving his mark all over the landscape of Atlanta, Marvin Arrington is a foot soldier, lawyer, politician, public servant, judge, and so much more. His achievements have been nothing less than remarkable; his determination and tenacity have been relentless, and his lust for fair play and integrity continues to keep him on the front line. Today, Marvin S. Arrington is a Fulton County Superior Court Judge (originally appointed by Governor Roy Barnes in 2002) where he delivers justice with a firm hand, a kind heart and a courageous spirit.
Judge Arrington is the doting father of two children, Michelle Arrington and Marvin S. Arrington, Jr. and has a passion for his grandchildren. He is a member of Big Bethel AME Church. Arrington has written an autobiography which is more than the story of Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., it is a testament to what hard work and determination can accomplish. Making My Mark: The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place (the book) is set to be released in March, 2008 and is a remarkable story of an American and an Atlantan.
Marvin Stephens Arrington, Sr. is a phenomenal man whom “God is not finished with yet.”