Celebrating Black History | Dr. Wiley "Army" Armstrong - A Life's Legacy

During the month of February, in honor of Black History Month, the NCHSAA website will feature information about African Americans who have made major contributions to the great tradition of high school sports in our state. We hope you find these both entertaining and informative. Our thanks to Rick Strunk, former NCHSAA Associate Commissioner, for his research into many of these articles.

Dr. Wiley “Army” Armstrong was one of the most influential figures in high school athletics in the state for many years as he served as the executive director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Conference (NCHSAC), the organization for black high schools during the days of segregation in the state.

For 15 years, Dr. Armstrong directed the efforts of the NCHSAC, which included over 100 high schools and contested classified championships in many sports. He was instrumental in helping those schools join the NCHSAA when the two organizations merged in 1968. He was inducted into the NCHSAA Hall of Fame in 1997 and was recognized as one of the NCHSAA’s 100 Administrators to Remember during the organization’s centennial celebration in 2013.

During his outstanding career, Dr. Armstrong served as president of the National Medical Association (NMA), also serving as chairman of the organization’s Board of Trustees, speaker of the organization’s House of Delegates and secretary of the same body. 

Closer to home, Armstrong is credited with playing a central role in the movement to desegregate hospitals in North Carolina and then the nation. He served as a member of the Governor’s Health Commission as chairman of the Board of Trustees at N.C. Central University. He also was secretary-treasurer of the Old North State Medical Society until his death in 1981.

Born in Edgecombe County and a 1931 graduate of Shaw University, Dr. Armstrong received his M.D. degree from Meharry Medical College. He also coached at the old Ligon High School in Raleigh as well as at Shaw and Fayetteville State Universities. 

His legacy ran deep in athletics and medicine. His daughter, the late Dr. Brenda Armstrong, was among the first African American students at Duke University, helping organize the Allen Building Takeover on campus in 1969. She was the second African American woman in the United States to become a board-certified pediatric cardiologist and helped to start the Durham Striders Youth Track Club with her godfather, NCHSAA Hall of Fame member, Russell Blunt.

Read more of our 2021 Series here.