This podcast is part of the series: BCRI Oral History Project
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
James Armstrong was born in Orrville, Dallas County, Alabama in 1923. After military service in Europe from 1943 to 1946, he returned to Alabama and worked in Selma and in Mobile, where he married. Since 1953, Armstrong has been self-employed as a barber in Birmingham. Armstrong was a founding member of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). Beginning in 1957, the entire Armstrong family took a lead in Birmingham's efforts to end desegregation when Armstrong registered his children to attend school at Graymont Elementary, an all-White public school. When the children were denied entry, Armstrong filed a lawsuit and a team of lawyers, including Arthur Shores and Constance Baker Motley, handled the case. Six years later, Armstrong's youngest children entered and desegregated Graymont Elementary School. Listen to Mr. Armstrong as he describes the day in September 1963 when his two youngest sons finally enrolled at Graymont Elementary.