DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former Dallas City Council member Al Lipscomb, a long-time local activist and a lightning rod in the city’s decades-long debate over civil rights, died Saturday after a long illness. He was 86.
“The city mourns the loss of a dedicated public servant and civil rights leader,” Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm said. “Mr. Lipscomb loved this city. He was a weariless defender of human rights and was untiring in his pursuit to make our city better for all of its residents.”
The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office said Lipscomb died around 3:45 a.m. Saturday. He had been in hospice care, but friends said he died at home surrounded by family.
Longtime South Dallas civil rights activist Diane Ragsdale was a close friend and considered Lipscomb a mentor.
“It was about (standing) for all, and I remember when we would do the pledge of the allegiance he would say justice for all … and he would always elevate those two words,” Ragsdale said.
Though the seven-term city council member was convicted of federal bribery charges in 1984, that conviction was overturned on appeal.
Through decades of public service, Lipscomb frequently challenged the city’s establishment, and in 1984 was the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that eventually led to the current 14-1 city council makeup and as a result increased minority representation in the city.
“He never shied away from a public fight,” Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway said Saturday. “He stood for what he thought was right. And those things that both he and Ms. Ragsdale stood for are the very things that we are benefitting from in this city today.”
Funeral arrangements are still pending.