James Armstrong is mostly known for a lawsuit that he filed with eight other black families in August of 1957 that led to the desegregation of Graymont Elementary in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. His lawsuit resulted in his sons Dwight and Floyd becoming the first black children to attend that school. Their first day at the school was September 9, 1963. (Armstrong, James )The integration of the school was not a peaceful process. This fact was made painfully obvious when an all-black Church in Birmingham was bombed on September 15, 1963 and four young girls were killed. (Teachers' Domain.)
A barber and veteran of World War II, Armstrong was a strong supporter of the Civil Rights Movement from the very beginning. During his time in the Army, Armstrong was a flag bearer and so he was also appointed to be the flag bearer in marches, including the famous 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. He took part in other demonstrations including one that attempted to integrate the Greyhound Bus Station's waiting room. He also was part of a demonstration that sought to integrate the stores in downtown Birmingham, and his part in this led to jail time in April of 1963. In this same period, Armstrong also worked closely with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and even helped him when his children were put in jail in Gadsen. Today, Armstrong still cuts hair in the same barbershop in Birmingham (Davis, Townsend).