FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn is scheduled to be the guest speaker at this year's Black History Month luncheon at Fort Jackson Tuesday.

The theme for this year's event is "At the Crossroads of Freedom and Equality," a concept meant to highlight progress made since the creation of Negro History Week in 1926 by historian Carter G. Woodson.

The first celebration of Black History Month occurred at Kent State in February of 1970, with the federal government formally recognizing the expansion in 1976. Today, both the United States and Canada recognize Black History Month in February.

"This is not just about black history," said Sgt. 1st Class Charolette Whittaker, 165th Infantry Brigade equal opportunity adviser. "It's about history, period."

"I think that the Army's strength is diversity," said Col. Odie Sheffield, commander of the 165th Infantry Brigade. "And we have a fantastic guest speaker coming. (Clyburn's) been involved with the government and community organizing since he was a teen. His visit is great for us; it's great for the community; and it's great for Fort Jackson."

Whittaker said the process of inviting Clyburn to speak at the Fort Jackson event involved only a single step.

"I just got on the website and sent him a request," she said. "I asked him to come and speak, and he said yes."

Clyburn ran for the 6th Congressional seat in 1992 as one of five African American candidates following the creation of the new black majority district during reapportionment. He went on to win the general election, and to become South Carolina's first African American to serve in Congress since Reconstruction.

This year's luncheon also marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, one of the biggest Civil Rights rallies in American history, as well as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The luncheon takes place 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday at the Solomon Center. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased from unit equal opportunity representatives, Whittaker said.

"It takes a lot of unit support to pull this off," she said.