Thousands honor memory of political pioneer

RALEIGH And it was all to remember a man called a bridge-builder, a trailblazer, and to many - a friend.

That's why we are here today," said Rep. G.K. Butterfield, "to celebrate a friend."

"Ralph Campbell was a gift to the people of North Carolina," said Gov. Beverly Perdue.

"His life was not wasted with mediocrity," said state NAACP president Rev. William Barber.

Ralph Campbell was the son of civil rights leaders, and his family was among the first to desegregate Raleigh city schools.

He served four terms on the city council in Raleigh, then in 1992, was elected state auditor. It made him the first African American elected to statewide executive office.

He was re-elected twice more before losing the position in 2004.

"Many have talked about people being able to transcend race," said Bill Campbell, Ralph's brother. "Well, Ralph was able to do that in the state of North Carolina."

"It was coalition-building," said the Hon. James Wynn, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge. "It was understanding that you have to work together with all races."

Ralph Campbell was 64-years-old.

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