Amelia Pride was the daughter of William Perry (1823-1873) and Ellen Dunn-Bailey (1827-1871). Both her parents were fair-skinned non-whites. William Perry, a master carpenter and building contractor of moderate wealth, was well respected in the Lynchburg community. Amelia was educated in Lynchburg schools. Sixteen when her parents died, she enrolled at the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). She earned a degree from the Hampton teacher education program in 1879.
Hampton’s emphasis on self-help and practical, vocational education left an indelible mark on Pride. In 1898 she opened a sewing school in the building of the Polk Street Colored School, where she served as principal. Five years later she founded the Theresa Pierce Cooking School for black children across from her home on Madison Street. These two schools would develop into the curriculum for domestic sciences and home economics in Lynchburg’s public schools. Amelia Pride also founded a retirement home for elderly black women and helped to start the Eighth Street Baptist Church.