Former High Point City Councilman Al Campbell, who broke barriers during a long career in service to the city, has died.

Campbell, a native of High Point, wasn't the first Black person to join the city's fire department — a fellow firefighter had that honor just days before Campbell joined in the fall of 1963.

But as Campbell explained in an oral history with High Point University in 2015, both recruits faced discrimination, and the other individual left the department early on. 

That left Campbell as the city's only Black firefighter for a few years. He recalled receiving threats that were so severe he was afraid to sleep in the fire station.

He would go on to earn an at-large seat on the city council in 1999 at a time when it was difficult for Black candidates to win citywide elections. His tenure on the council included two stints as Mayor Pro Tem.

Campbell died last week at the age of 85.

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