‘Honoring America’s Call to Action: Then & Now’ Topic of Najarian Lecture on Oct. 22

BOSTON, Mass.—In commemoration of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the topic of the 2015 Najarian on Human Rights at Faneuil Hall is, “Honoring America’s Call to Action: Then & Now.” This, the sixth annual lecture, takes place on Thurs., Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Historic Faneuil Hall. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Peter Balakian

This year’s lecture pays tribute to the New England women and men who, starting in 1894, gathered at Faneuil Hall to draw attention to the atrocities perpetrated against the Armenian minority of the Ottoman Empire. They heard eyewitness accounts from relief workers, missionaries, and diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau. These prominent Bostonians, including Julia Ward Howe, William Lloyd Garrison, Jr., and Alice Stone Blackwell, gave the call to action, launching America’s first and largest humanitarian effort.

Clara Barton, then-director of the American Red Cross, led an international mission to Turkey to deliver aid personally—the first time a U.S. organization established a humanitarian base in another country. In 1915, Near East Relief, known today as the Near East Foundation, was founded and continued the work already started. Thus, Americans embarked on the largest international humanitarian effort of its time, raising $117 million in funds and needed supplies. Among the Bostonians leading this great undertaking was James L. Barton, the first chairman of Near East Relief. This was America’s first international human rights movement.

The lecture’s “Call to Action: 1894-1919” provides an historical perspective most fittingly offered by Peter Balakian, author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, winner of the Raphael Lemkin Prize. Peter Balakian, Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor at Colgate University, is the author of seven books of poems and four books of prose including the recently published, Vice and Shadow – Essays on the Lyric Imagination, Poetry, Art and Culture. James Carroll, in his review of the new work states that Peter Balakian “…creates a brilliant collage of both American imagination and Armenian memory…an elegantly written, seminal work of sweeping importance.”

Joyce Van Dyke

A history play by award-winning playwright Joyce Van Dyke, commissioned for this lecture, follows, and is directed by Judy Braha. During the weeks following the lecture, Joyce Van Dyke’s play, “Daybreak,” runs from Oct. 29-Nov. 7 at the Balch Arena Theatre at Tufts University, under the direction of Barbara Grossman. The play was previously seen in Boston in a production directed by Judy Braha under the title, “Deported / a dream play.” Joyce Van Dyke’s other plays include “The Oil Thief” (Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding New Script) and “A Girl’s War” (the Boston Globe’s “Top Ten” plays of the year, Gassner Prize).

Sarah Leah Whitson

The lecture’s Call to Action 2015 is offered by Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division. Whitson oversees the work of the division in 19 countries, with staff located in 10 countries. She has led dozens of advocacy and investigative missions throughout the region, focusing on issues of armed conflict, accountability, legal reform, migrant workers, and political rights. She has published widely on human rights issues in the Middle East in international and regional media. As a board member of Project 2015, a U.S.-based non-profit organization of leading scholars, academics, activists, and writers of Armenian and Turkish descent in the United States, Whitson helped to organize programs in Istanbul to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, working closely with Turkish civil society organizations. Whitson is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

A reception will follow at Millennium Bostonian Hotel. On exhibit will be several posters from the Near East Foundation’s traveling exhibit titled, “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief.”

The purpose of the endowed lecture series is to advance understanding of human rights issues and the societal abuses faced by millions today, and to increase awareness of the work of individuals and organizations dedicated to eliminating these injustices so that we are all more actively engaged.

Former topic and speakers of the endowed lecture series include: “Truth to Action: Media Freedom, Protecting Human Rights Globally” with Ray Suarez, Courtney Radsch, Thomas Mucha, and Stephen Kurkjian (2014); “Human Trafficking” with Siddharth Kara, Cherie Jimenez, Liam Lowney, and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian (2013); “Immigrant Experience” in celebration of the opening of Armenian Heritage Park with Ambassador Edward Djrejeian (2012); “An Ordinary Man” with Paul Rusesabagina (2011); and the Inaugural Lecture, “Speak Truth to Power” with Kerry Kennedy and Peter Balakian (2010) .

The lecture is annually offered in partnership with leading academic, historical, and human rights organizations. Serving on the Lecture Planning Committee are Carolann Najarian, M.D., George Najarian, Joyce Barsam, Ph.D., Phyllis Dohanian, Audrey Kalajian, Linda Kaboolian, Ph.D., and Barbara Tellalian.

For more information, visit www.ArmenianHeritagePark.org or e-mail info@ArmenianHeritagePark.org.

Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: ‘Honoring America’s Call to Action: Then & Now’ Topic of Najarian Lecture on Oct. 22

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