FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker is preparing to kick off a month-long celebration to highlight the contributions of African-Americans throughout history.

The 1st Aviation Brigade Equal Opportunity Office will kick off African-American History Month with an event at the post exchange Feb. 3 at 11:30 a.m. to not only promote diversity, but to educate people on the contributions that African-Americans have made throughout history, according to Sgt. 1st Class Michael Lukeman, 1st Avn. Bde. equal opportunity adviser.

The theme for this year's event is "The Crisis in Black Education," so education will be first and foremost at the kickoff event, where the EO office in conjunction with the Fort Rucker Education Center will host a college fair.

"All of the colleges that are here through the education center will have tables set up, and try to encourage people to sign up for college classes and learn about what they have to offer," said Lukeman, adding that the kickoff event will also be a good opportunity to educate others on the importance of diversity.

The kickoff is only one of many events planned throughout the month.

• The Black History 5K and Walk will be held on Feb. 4 at 9 a.m. in front of Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Center with a focus on the continuing theme of education. Lukeman said tables will also be setup from the education center to showcase what opportunities are available and what colleges have to offer.

People can pre-register for the run by Feb. 2 at either gym, and pre-registration costs $20 with a no-T-shirt option registration for $15. After Feb. 2, registration cost is $25 and people can register up until 8:40 a.m. on race day.

There is also the option for runners to register as teams of up to eight for $120 for early registration and $160 for race-day registration, with each additional person paying normal registration fees.

The race is open to the public and refreshments will be provided. Medals will be awarded for first, second and third place in 14 age categories for both male and female winners.

• Feb. 10 from 10:15-10:45 a.m., the Center Library will host book readings to go along with the theme of promoting diversity, said Lukeman. The readings will be for children up to 6 years old. For more information on the readings or volunteer opportunities, call the library at 255-3885.

• The EO office will hold its main equal opportunity observance Feb. 23 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the post theater, which will count toward second quarter equal opportunity training.

The guest speaker for the event is Capt. Taj Williams, D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment.

Lukeman said that Williams will talk to audience members about his journey throughout his career as an African-American and the opportunities that were afforded him in Army Aviation.

"He tries to go out and talk to people and let them know that they're not limited to only doing certain jobs within the military," said the EO adviser. "The Army gives all kinds of opportunities, but you have to take advantage of them."

Feb. 26, there will be a showing of the movie "Hidden Figures," at the post theater, which highlights the contributions that African-American women had in the U.S. space program.

Lukeman said the main goal is to educate people on not just one type of culture, but all cultures.

"The reason why the equal opportunity office does these events is for the education opportunities -- to teach not just for the one particular ethnic or cultural group, because this is all American history," he said. "These are just small opportunities to encourage people to see that there is so much (other cultures) have to offer and so much more that has been contributed to the growth of America.

"There is a lot more to Black History Month (than people realize)," he continued. "There is so much more that is out there that people just simply don't know, and as a result they get used to the same thing over and over again -- that's what we want to change."

Lukeman said these events are not meant to highlight one specific group over another, but to showcase what it is that each culture and ethnic group has to offer.

"The only way we are ever going to defeat something like racism, not just in this country but overall, is through education, and that's why this year's theme is so critical," he said. "The only way to beat any of the 'isms,' whether its racism, sexism, etc. -- all of these things that are holding humanity back -- is through communication and education."

For more information or volunteer opportunities, call 255-2363 or 255-2930.