FORT RUCKER, Ala -- Fort Rucker kicked off its month-long observance of what the 1st Aviation Brigade equal opportunity adviser called not just African-American history, but American history, with a hope to end inequality through education.

"This year's theme is 'Crisis in Black Education,'" said Sgt. Class Michael Lukeman, 1st Avn. Bde. equal opportunity adviser. "Without question, so many of societies unending 'isms,' be it racism, sexism, or anti-Semitism, can be fought and defeated through the power of education."

That's why with the help of the Fort Rucker Education Center, this year's kickoff event at the post exchange Feb. 3 featured an education fair where different colleges and universities, including Troy University, Central Texas College and Embry-Riddle University, had tables set up where people could learn more about the opportunities that are available to them on post, said the EO officer.

"African-American history is rich in centuries-old efforts of resistance against this crisis (in education), including the slaves endeavors to learn, the rise of black colleges and universities, and the freedom schools of the 60s," he said, adding that the fight continues today.

In addition to the education fair, people were able to listen to gospel songs performed live, as well as get a taste of traditional African-American cooking.

Lillian Evans, military spouse, said her visit to the post exchange was not only enlightening, but a welcome change when it comes to observances.

"I think this is a great way to use an observance month -- to promote something like education," she said. "Education is so important for not just youth, but for everyone. Some people might have reservations about going back to school later in life, but it's nothing to be scared to do. I did it and I'm working on finishing my degree, so I think it's awesome that they're trying to promote this.

"This is a really unique way to bring awareness to not just (African-American History Month), but other cultures, too," she continued. "I believe diversity is really what brings strength to this country, and we have to celebrate that, no matter what background you come from -- you have to embrace that this is what makes our country great."

Throughout the month, Fort Rucker will continue to observe African-American History Month with different events.

• 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, according to 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 free 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.

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