The Arthur L. Pulley Funeral and Memorial Fund

Arthur L. Pulley. oldest living black graduate of Yale University Law School, played role in Lincoln School Desegregation Case, dies at 99

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Arthur Pulley of New Rochelle died on January 10, 2016. He is survived by Bernice Cosey Pulley, his wife of 61 years and their son, Nicholas S. Pulley. A visitation and service was held on Sunday, January 17 at Lighthouse Church at 528 North Avenue in New Rochelle, NY.

Mr. Pulley (’53 LL.B.) was the oldest living black graduate of Yale University Law School and namesake of Yale University’s Arthur L. Pulley and Bernice Cosey Pulley Research Prize for the Advancement of Peace and Social Justice in the Americas and Africa. He was 99.

Pulley played an important role in the Lincoln School Desegregation case (TAYLOR V. BD. OF ED., NEW ROCHELLE (United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.·294 F.2d 36 (2d Cir. 1961), filing an Amicus Brief on behalf of the Urban League of Westchester County.

Civil rights and peace champions, he and his wife, Bernice, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Washington in 1963.

During his life, Arthur Pulley gave freely and selflessly of his time, energy, and money to the community in many ways.  

Mr. Pulley was a community leader and founding member of the Westchester Black Bar Association, founder of Meals-on-Wheels of New Rochelle, the Inter-religious Council of Churches of New Rochelle, and served for 42 years as Trustee of Bethesda Baptist Church. 

For decades, Mr. Pulley and his family opened their home in the Catskills – and later, after the death of their son, The Arthur L. Pulley, Jr. Memorial Center for Creativity in Greenfield Park, Ulster County, NY. – to hundreds of underserved city children and their families each year for a “Let Freedom Ring” day in the country, a day of cultural celebration, education, and friendship. The Center was made available free of charge to all individuals and groups that adhered to the “no alcohol, tobacco, drugs or firearms” policy. Over the years, over 7,000 people, many of whom were socially deprived children, have enjoyed a day in the country through these efforts. Artists, writers, and families were given lodging for weeks at a time and several plays were written there. Over 50 scholarships to advance social justice were given. 

Pulley served in the 372nd Infantry Regiment in World War II, a segregated regiment. His rank in the segregated U.S. Army was the highest NCO rank (the last 1st Sgt. in the segregated Company K).

At an early age Pulley left school upon the death of his mother to help his family in the laundry business during the Depression. He returned to high school and graduated two years after his starting class.

Sadly, Pulley died with little money an no insurance leaving his wife in a deep financial hole. The Arthur L. Pulley Jr. Center for Creativity is also in dire need of financial support.

The Arthur L. Pulley Funeral and Memorial Fund, organized by son Nicholas Pulley, seeks to raise $50,000 to support the Center and assist Bernice Cosey Pulley to recover financially following the death of her husband. At the time of publication the fund has raised $400. If you wish to donate please visit for further information.