Fort Rucker celebrates diversity during Black History Month
March 5, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Hundreds of community members celebrated diversity at Fort Rucker, in the Army and around the country Feb. 26 during the post's annual African-American/Black History Month luncheon at The Landing.
The month's theme was "Make footsteps worth following," and post equal opportunity leaders made every effort to educate the community about leaving behind a lasting legacy.
"(This month) focused on education and our children. Education is the footsteps - whether it's academic or cultural - that we're leaving behind now, and that we've left behind," said Sgt. 1st Class Paula Bair, 1st Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser.
Angela Seals, event guest speaker and Coppinville Junior High School principal, stressed attendees should work together, regardless of race.
"Although there's been a great deal of struggles that have been endured, my race of people has persevered and overcome a lot of obstacles," she said. "I will applaud the day when we look at each other as a human race and we won't even be concerned about the differences in the colors of our skin. When we stand, we have to realize we are interdependent on each other. No race is an island. Although this month we celebrate the accomplishments of African-Americans, each month we can look at each group and celebrate the accomplishments of that particular group and how we had to help each other get to where we're going."
Seals said she believes education helps people become more successful so they can reach these goals. Being proactive is also necessary to overcoming adversity, she noted.
"We must remember this - that 'make' is an action word and it's in the present tense," she said. "The people before us 'made' footprints that (are) worth following, and those were some awesome footprints they made. It's now time for us to 'make' footprints worth following. We need to always keep that in mind when we're living our lives - 'what kind of impression am I making today''"
Seals noted the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts have only been signed since 1964 and 1965, respectively, meaning blacks have come a long way in a short time. Still, she said, her race has a long way to go to reach full equality compared to others.
"As I look at (this) race of people, a great amount of strides have been made in 46 years," Seals said. "We have not arrived, and we have a great distance to go, but I absolutely marvel at the strides that have been made. I don't look back on the struggles. It does not make me bitter. We are to take every struggle, every obstacle, and become better as a result of that."
This year's campaign was successful, Bair said, because she saw a greater diversity in the groups of people who showed up for the various events throughout February.
Learning about cultures outside of one's own personal ethnicity is important to being well-rounded, she said.
During the luncheon, Fort Rucker Primary School first graders entertained the crowd with patriotic songs, and Troy University Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., members performed a traditional African step demonstration.
Luncheon host Sgt. 1st Class Brian Davis, who works in the 1st Avn. Bde. intelligence office, challenged his audience to make an impact here and worldwide.
He noted all Black History Month activities helped "Soldiers and Families learn about culture."
"This year's theme allows us to look forward to the future and appreciate those of the past," Davis said. "Through the blood, sweat, many tears, perseverance and dreams, past generations made these footsteps that we, as a nation, stand in today. Now is the time for us as parents, mentors, coaches, educators, leaders and as a community, regardless of race, color, gender or religion, to continue to make footsteps for future generations."
John Hoofman, a Fort Rucker Elementary School fourth grader, provided an example of one person's sacrifice when he read his award-winning piece from the recent post schools' African-American/Black History Month Essay Contest.
The youngster highlighted his hero, former Major League Baseball player Hank Aaron, saying the black athlete inspired him because of his ability to overcome adversity, act as a positive role model and display humility.
Hoofman also added he chose to write about Aaron because he was the first man to break Babe Ruth's home run record.
Col. Timothy Edens, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker chief of staff, presented Hoofman a certificate for his efforts.