Mayor Byron W. Brown today ordered City of Buffalo flags lowered to half staff to honor the late George K. Arthur, one of Buffalo’s most prominent government, political and civic leaders, and a major figure in the African American community.
“The City of Buffalo has lost a distinguished leader and tireless advocate for positive change in our community and pioneer for equity, who successfully pushed to desegregate the Buffalo Public Schools with the passing of George K. Arthur. In honor of his incredible and lasting contributions to Buffalo, City flags will be lowered to half staff,” Mayor Brown said.
Mr. Arthur passed away Christmas Day following a lengthy illness at age 87. He will be buried January 2, 2021 at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Mr. Arthur was actively involved in public service for 55 years, serving on the Buffalo Common Council for 26 years, including a dozen as president before his retirement. He continued to work for Buffalo until his passing as a member of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. A student of City government and history, He was a mentor to many in government throughout his career, including Mayor Brown. “I first met George K. Arthur as a college intern and went on to become a staffer in his office. He was a mentor and inspiration to me. He will be remembered as one of the most significant and enduring government and political leaders in the history of the City of Buffalo,” Mayor Brown said.
One of Mr. Arthur’s most impactful efforts was his fight against the inequalities he saw in the city’s education system, with support from the Buffalo branch of the NAACP and the Citizens’ Council for Human Relations. He was the lead plaintiff in a school desegregation lawsuit, Arthur v. Nyquist, that was filed in 1972. The federal lawsuit was decided in 1976, with the court ruling in Mr. Arthur’s favor.
“He was certainly passionate about education, and passionate about Buffalo and its people. He never stopped working for the community, and being active in the community,” Mayor Brown said. “He devoted his entire life to making the City of Buffalo a better place for all people. And he was a fighter for working men and women in this city.”
Mr. Arthur also worked with various outside community and cultural organizations, including the NAACP, the Black Leadership Forum, the historic First Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, the Michigan Street Preservation Corp., and especially the Nash House Museum, which he championed. He also helped spearhead an annual Pine Grill Reunion.