By Kim A. Yacoubian
Under the auspices of the Armenian Inter-Communal Committee of Philadelphia, the Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Philadelphia was formed to oversee Centennial activity in the greater Philadelphia area with broad representation from local Armenian churches, schools, and organizations. The greater Philadelphia Armenian community has been active hosting numerous educational and cultural events to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide. Below is a list of both upcoming and past events.
Kicking off this month, the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church hosted the “We Not Only Survived, We Thrive” Armenian Genocide Symposium and Exhibit of Ottoman Era Artifacts with keynote speaker Dr. Richard Hovannisian during the weekend of April 10. The Armenian Students’ Cultural Association hosted a Genocide Awareness Program on Wed., April 15, in Philadelphia, with speakers Dr. Andrew Mathis and Dr. Ara Chalian. On Wed., April 22, the AGBU Young Professionals of Philadelphia arranged for a film screening of “1915 The Movie” in King of Prussia, Pa. On Thurs., April 23, the Armenian Sisters Academy will be hosting, on behalf of the Armenian Inter-Communal Committee of Philadelphia, a commemorative program in Radnor, Pa., which includes a khatchkar dedication and student performance.
Several local events are also being organized and supported by non-Armenian institutions and communities, such as universities, churches, and ethnic groups who have also been subject to genocide. To reciprocate, representatives from the Philadelphia Armenian community walked in the Greek Independence Day Parade on Sun., March 22. Outreach efforts have also been made toward the Assyrian and Jewish communities.
On Mon., April 20, Rosemont College will host a commemorative event in Bryn Mawr, Pa., entitled “Building a New Armenian Identity,” with filmmaker Stephanie Ayanian and panelists M.J. Hannush and Adam Lusk. The Armenian Genocide Centennial Committee of Philadelphia and Stockton University’s Holocaust and Genocide Studies program will also be co-sponsoring “Worldwide Reading Day,” which is part of a global initiative on Tues., April 21.
To raise awareness about the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide to the general public, two free events have been planned, which will take place rain or shine: the 8th Annual Armenian Genocide Walk on Sat., April 18, and a “100 Minute Silent Sit-in” on Fri., April 24.
In addition, a Centennial billboard is currently on display on I-76 at the Spring Garden exit eastbound in Philadelphia, and a full page ad will appear in the “Local News” section of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sun., April 19, and Fri., April 24.
The 8th Annual Armenian Genocide Walk on Sat., April 18, will provide an opportunity for the entire Philadelphia community to gather to commemorate the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide at the Independence Visitor Center in historical Philadelphia. Beginning with the “They Shall Not Perish: The Story of Near East Relief” traveling exhibit and a Centennial social media campaign, hundreds will then walk through the streets of Philadelphia to rally and raise awareness for the cause. At the conclusion of the walk, a special program will take place with host Eva Pilgrim of the 6abc Action News team and keynote speaker Phil Holtje of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center.
At noon on Fri., April 24, a “100 Minute Silent Sit-in” will take place in LOVE Park in Center City Philadelphia to commemorate the day marked as the beginning of the Armenian Genocide 100 years ago. Following the sit-in, educational packets will be distributed to the public. On the evening of April 24, the Armenian Inter-Communal Committee of Philadelphia will hold a Divine Liturgy and a Candlelight Vigil at St. Sahag and St. Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church in Wynnewood, Pa., with a program and reception to follow.
To support regional Centennial events as well, buses have been arranged for community members from Philadelphia to attend the Divine Liturgy and Times Square program in New York City on Sun., April 26, and the Divine Liturgy at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Sat., May 9.