This study dealt with preparation of the activated carbon derived from active sludge as an adsorbent for the adsorption of crystal violet (CV) from aqueous solution. The waste active sludge was activated chemically with KOH and carbonized to get activated carbon with a large surface area and a high porosity. The activated carbon was characterized by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy, Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) instrument, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Adsorption of CV from aqueous solution onto the activated carbon was investigated under varying conditions, such as adsorbent dosage (1–6 g/L), solution pH (4–9), contact time period (0–150 min), initial dye concentration (20–100 mg/L), and temperature (25–55 °C). 4.0 g/L of adsorbent dosage was chosen as the optimum level due to having a high removal rate (96.2%) (initial CV concentration 60 mg/L; 150 rpm; pH 6; 25 °C). The adsorption kinetic and adsorption isotherms were well described by the pseudo second order kinetic and the Freundlich isotherm model, respectively. The thermodynamic parameters indicated that the adsorption is a spontaneous process and favored at higher temperatures. The results show that the activated carbon derived from active sludge could be employed as a low-cost material for the removal of CV dye.