By Cicely Wiggins

WASHINGTON – As the first African-American female combat pilot Vernice Armour’s desire to save people’s lives was essential to her dedication to join the Marines.

Her belief that you should acknowledge obstacles – but not give them power – shows how she achieved.

Armour is often viewed as headstrong, defying the odds in her life.

For example, she joined the military against her parents’ wishes. They were fearful of the treatment she might receive as a woman in the military and they also were afraid for her safety.

But Armour’s one of those people who takes on an issue and rolls with the punches.

“We have the choice to make any kind of life we want to. Why not make it a breakthrough life?” Armour said to a group of high school students in the Urban Journalism Workshop during a recent news conference.

She has inspired many people with her speeches and wants to form an organization to help train young people to become leaders.

“I want to have a leadership community center in (Washington) D.C. where the kids, adults, community leaders, and also city leaders, have a chance to get together. I like to call it a mentorship family of young people eight to 12 years old, teens 13 to 18 years old, adults and civic leaders,” Armour said.

“In this family, the young kids are learning from the adults and the leaders about how to be a leader when they grow up,” she added.

And if those young people want to go into the Marines, she says they should want it bad enough to brace themselves for whatever is thrown in their direction.

 “Each person is unique with where they are going, and the experiences that they already had. But once I just have that little dialogue about what their goals and dreams are then I could give some advice,” Armour said.


Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization of Black journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.