Black History Month kickoff event celebrates diversity
February 7, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (February 7, 2013) -- Fort Rucker held its Black History Month kickoff event Feb. 1 at the main post exchange and organizers, entertainers and patrons agreed that the event helped spread diversity and educated the local community.
The main exchange, in conjunction with the Fort Rucker Equal Opportunity Office, hosted the post-wide event, with the goal to help people understand the importance of diversity, according to Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Emery, 1st Aviation Brigade.
"Celebrating the Army's diverse culture is important because understanding each other is an important piece of the puzzle to how the Army moves forward. Understanding cultural differences helps us come together. Celebrating Black History Month is just one way to help bridge that gap," he said.
Several patrons at the event felt that Fort Rucker does a superb job of spreading cohesion between different nationalities.
"I really loved the events that they planned for today. Fort Rucker does a great job in spreading cultural diversity, more so than some of the other units I have been in," said Capt. Neapolian Brooks, 1st Avn. Bde.
Capt. Justin Barnes, 1st Avn. Bde., agreed.
"Cultural diversity only makes us stronger and better, because by bringing in different ways to do something always improves the final product as a whole," he added.
Col. Brian D. Bennett, 1st Avn. Bde. commander and guest speaker, recognized the many cultures that make up the Army culture.
"Though we as an Army have a culture of our own, we like to recognize all the unique cultures within our Army because that is what makes our Army as strong as it is. From all the different groups, we are America," he said.
The spirited, enriched event was designed to create awareness and appreciation for diversity in the country while promoting culture, racial harmony and the continued remembrance of African-Americans' contributions, and Kathryn Cole, post exchange employee, said it did just that.
"Fort Rucker is always so supportive of all the different nationalities and it is always a good event, not just for Black History Month, but for any nationality," she said.
Performers such as the Sons of Thunder, Lynn Roberts, several choirs, soloists and dancers entertained patrons. There was also a giveaway drawing where prizes ranged from exchange gift cards to artwork, and a free lunch of ethnic food was served out to patrons of every ethnicity.
"These events often get misconstrued as trying to bring together African-Americans, but a lot of the goal is to bring together people who are not black so they can learn about the African-American culture. We want everyone involved so everyone can learn," said Emery.
Honoring the contributions African-Americans have made to every area of the country's life is something that Susie Antonello, Fort Rucker Army and Air Force Exchange Service's visual merchandiser manager, said is something that the exchange is proud to join in on.
"We had a nice turnout. People are participating by watching and eating and we are very honored to hold such an event, and to be able to provide this to the community and to take a minute to celebrate," she said. "The people performing are all volunteers so we are very appreciative of them coming out and spending their day with us while providing some spiritual and emotional entertainment."
The equal opportunity climate here is supported from the top down, according to Capt. Matthew Stockton, equal opportunity leader at D Co., 1st Bn, 145th Avn. Regt., and the command structure makes it a priority, setting Fort Rucker up for success.
"We can see it from our command structure, they make it a priority so we get honored even down to the company level," he said. "I want my whole company to understand different cultures because even in Enterprise the majority is still white, with 46 percent of the population being black. So people need to understand what the other population here is. Understanding that just brings us all closer together."
The EO and Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation will have other events throughout the month for the community to enjoy and to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans, to celebrate cultural diversity and to educate the public on historical events.
On Feb. 21 there will be a luncheon at The Landing with guest speaker Georgette Norman, the director of the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Feb. 22 there will be an observance field trip to the Rosa Parks Museum and Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery.