Miami-Dade County

Get gutsy, stay gutsy: First African-American female combat pilot’s advice

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, America’s first African-American female combat pilot, with 6-year-old Neah Henriquez. Armour shared her story as part of a tribute to the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a community breakfast and lunch to promote unity and equality on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. The event was sponsored by the YMCA, JM Family Enterprises, Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and FPL.
Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, America’s first African-American female combat pilot, with 6-year-old Neah Henriquez. Armour shared her story as part of a tribute to the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a community breakfast and lunch to promote unity and equality on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. The event was sponsored by the YMCA, JM Family Enterprises, Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and FPL. jiglesias@elnuevoherald.com

In time for the Martin Luther King holiday, the first African-American female combat pilot offered words of inspiration and encouragement Friday to YMCA leaders and community partners gathered at a breakfast in Fort Lauderdale and at a lunch in Miami.

Vernice Armour, who went from a beat cop to serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, talked about her amazing success story and how it prompted her to become a motivational speaker. She was part of a weekend of activities that will include an MLK Day of Service on Monday, when volunteers help out at 20 YMCA service projects in Broward and Miami-Dade.

"No one is born qualified," Armour said. "You get qualified."

Her message, she added, was all about "engagement, about engaging yourself and engaging others.” She cited her five-part "flight plan" to change both private and public worlds, warning that "you don't always make it on the first time and that's OK."

Now known as “Flygirl,” Armour was raised in Memphis and became the first female African-American on the motorcycle squad of the Nashville police, then the first African-American woman to serve as a police officer in Tempe, Arizona. After joining the Marines, she was sent to flight school.

In 2011, she published “Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter.” She said she never aimed to be the first of anything. “I was going for the adventure and wanted a great life.”

But, she added, one has to move out of the comfort zone to accomplish anything. “Get gutsy. Stay gutsy.”

MLK events

Broward MLK Day of Service: Join residents in Boulevard Gardens, Washington Park, Roosevelt Gardens, and Franklin Park to honor Dr. King. Volunteers receive free breakfast, lunch, ice cream, and T-shirts (while supplies last); 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday; Boulevard Gardens Community Center, 313 NW 28th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale. To register, email Aretha Wimberly at AWimberly@broward.org or call 954-357-7794.

City Year Miami, Day of Service: 8 to 1 p.m. Monday, Laura Sanders Elementary School, 505 SW Eighth St., Homestead. All volunteers must register. To register, go to https://www.cityyear.org/miami/events/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-day-service. For questions, email MiamiCivicEngagement@cityyear.org

FIU Martin Luther King Celebration: The 26th annual event begins a month-long celebration at the university. For information, call 305-348-2436 or visit http://bit.ly/2j8j3tg.

Gospel Shabbat-Legato Vocal Ensemble: Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day; 6-7:30 p.m. Friday; Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables. Free. 305-667-5657.

Hymn to Freedom: A one-hour tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with music by Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson, first recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award. The Zach Bartholomew Trio (piano, bass, drums) headlines. 7-8 p.m. Friday; Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 DeSoto Blvd., Coral Gables. Free. 305-448-7421.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 5K Run/Walk: The 34th annual race starts at 8 a.m. Monday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Metrorail Station at 6205 NW 27th Ave., Miami. http://bit.ly/2jkPdzg.

MLK Parade in Liberty City: The parade begins at 11 a.m. Monday and runs along Northwest 54th Street, from Northwest 10th to 32nd avenues. The parade includes high school marching bands, athletes, cheerleaders and carnival dancers. The parade ends with a celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, 6000 NW 32nd Ct., Miami.

MLK Day of Service in Allapattah: Volunteers will work on two projects: Comstock Elementary School Beautification and Senior Home Repair; 8 a.m. Monday. Check-in for both projects is at Juan Pablo Duarte Park, 2800 NW 17th Ave., Miami. 786-442-7504 or YMCAStandForSomething.org.

Visions of Our 44th President: A collective art exhibit featuring 44 busts of Barack Obama, each interpreted differently by an American artist; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. through Wednesday; Lyric Theatre, 819 NW Second Ave., Miami. $15-$20. www.44thpresident.us/.

What’s Going On — Marvin Gaye’s America: The exhibition uses a contemporary and a historic lens to explore the themes of the singer’s 1971 hit album, “What’s Going On.” 10 a.m., through Feb. 27; Miramar Cultural Center, 2400 Civic Center Pl., Miramar. Free. 954-602-4500 or www.miramarculturalcenter.org/493/Cultural-Affairs.

YMCA Day of Service: From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, participate at one of 20 different volunteer projects in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Register at https://ymcasouthfloridadonate.regfox.com/mlk-day-of-service-registration.

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