Sarah Jones Outterbridge was born to Reverend Marion Jones of Greensboro, North Carolina. Because her father organized the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), as a youth, Outterbridge frequently listened in on meetings held at their home. She joined the chapter after it was officially formed in 1962.
Otterbridge participated in civil rights activities throughout her high school years, including numerous pickets at segregated Greensboro businesses. As a high school student, she was the lone female participant in the “flush-in” at city hall to protest the building’s segregated bathroom facilities. Outterbridge was arrested on several occasions, including the Thanksgiving Day picket at the S&W Cafeteria which resulted in mass incarcerations at the old polio hospital. She also participated in CORE’s Freedom Highways Project in High Point and Durham, and the August 28, 1963 March on Washington.
Outterbridge graduated from Dudley High School in 1963 and attended North Carolina A&T State University, from which she earned a degree in clothing, textiles and fashion merchandising in 1981.