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George K. Arthur

American, 1933-2020

Chuck Tingley’s portrait of George K. Arthur for The Freedom Wall, 2017. Photograph by Tom Loonan.

Over the course of a political career that lasted almost half a century, Buffalo native George K. Arthur dedicated himself to ensuring equality and promoting unity in a constantly changing city. Arthur’s public service began in 1964, when, at the urging of a friend, he ran for and subsequently won a seat on the Erie County Board of Supervisors. He later served as the Ellicott District Common Council Member from 1970 to 1977, Common Council President from 1984 to 1996, and was appointed as a director of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority in 2007. In his various roles, Arthur was a passionate advocate for economic development and equality in housing and education, serving as the lead plaintiff in Arthur v. Nyquist, a federal suit that brought to an end segregation and unequal resources in Buffalo schools that spanned from 1981 to 1996. In 1985, he challenged long-serving incumbent Jimmy Griffin in Buffalo’s mayoral race, becoming just the third African American to run for mayor in the city’s history and only narrowly losing.

Outside of political office, Arthur has worked with a number of organizations including the NAACP, the historic First Shiloh Baptist Church, and the Michigan Street Preservation Corporation, where he was instrumental in preserving the home and archives of Rev. J. Edward Nash, Sr., as the Nash House Museum.

Last updated 2020