Activist and civil rights minister Reverend Albert "Al" Sampson was born on November 27, 1938, in Everett, Massachusetts, and graduated from Everett High School in 1956. He won the high school oratorical contest his senior year. Called to the ministry, Sampson attended Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, receiving a B.A. in 1963. Sampson earned a masters degree in cultural studies from Governors State University in 1973 and a masters of divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1977.
While at Shaw, Sampson was president of the Shaw Student Body and the campus, city and state chapters of the NAACP. He was arrested during Raleigh's student sit-ins and was selected by his fellow students to introduce the first public accommodations bill in North Carolina history. Rev. Sampson became involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1962 and served as campaign manager for Leroy Johnson, Georgia's first black State Senator. This led indirectly to Sampson being ordained by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1966. He was selected to study organizing and later worked with Rev. James Bevel to help organize Resurrection City for Dr. King's Poor People's Campaign.
Rev. Sampson became pastor of Fernwood United Methodist Church in Chicago in 1975, where he continues today. He played an important role in the campaign of the late Mayor Harold Washington as a member of the Task Force for Black Political Empowerment. Sampson is president of the National Black Farmers Harvest and Business Trade Cooperative and serves on numerous boards and organizations that stress the economic development of the black community. He served as a scholar consultant for the Black Heritage Bible and is currently the president of the Metropolitan Council of Black Churches in Chicago.