High school home economics teacher Edith Armstead Gray was born on November 19, 1910 in Galveston, Texas to Millie and Henry Armstead. Although Gray and her family sometimes worked as farm laborers picking cotton, her parents valued education and encouraged their children to attend college. She attended Lamarque Public School and Booker T. Washington School in Lamarque, Texas before earning her high school diploma from Central High School in Galveston in 1930. The following year, Gray enrolled at Tuskegee Institute, slowly working her way towards her degree. As a member of the Tuskegee 100 Voice Choir, she traveled with the group across the country for six weeks singing at Radio City Music Hall in New York and for President Franklin Roosevelt's mother's birthday in 1932.
In the mid-1930s, when she was no longer able to pay tuition, she returned to Texas where she worked as a seamstress. In 1934, she received her first and only teaching job with the Conecuh County Board of Education in Alabama, teaching home economics until she retired in 1976. While teaching, she completed her studies at Tuskegee and earned her B.S. degree in 1940, nearly ten years after she enrolled. In 1966, Gray joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and served as the first secretary for the Conecuh County chapter, where she helped to organize people for civil rights protests and tried to increase the membership.
Gray is widowed and has three adult children, Frederick, Jerome and Phyllis.
Edith Armstead Gray was interviewed by TheHistoryMakers on May 18, 2004.