A global pandemic, economic crises, protests for racial justice, wildfires and hurricanes forcing people to flee their homes and businesses, and an impending election in the US. These are just some of the events taking place right now. And, in the midst of this, a violent conflict is taking place between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a humanitarian crisis. We know from history that mass violence does not take place when it is convenient, in peace, when we are prepared to act. It often happens when the world is distracted, when we are busy and exhausted.
Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day—an annual, international observance of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between the years of 1915 and 1923. Despite the denialist rhetoric and political coercion of leaders in Turkey, nations around the world are beginning to tell the truth about the genocide perpetrated against Armenians, and witness the Armenian community’s immense resilience and humanity. After decades of political gridlock came to an end last December, the United States joined twenty-eight countries in formally recognizing the genocide. But there’s much more that must be done to honor this history of genocide and, this year, Armenians are leading the way through an unprecedented campaign.
During Genocide Awareness Month this April, we would like to draw educators' and parents' attention to Facing History’s rich array of teaching resources on genocide. But we also invite you to deepen your own learning with these 7 brand new titles written by scholars and memoirists grappling with the nature of genocide, its impacts on people around the world, and the acts of resistance and humanity that persist amid horrific circumstances. These books range in format from survivor testimony and multigenerational biography, to accounts of historical upstanders and scholarly analysis of how we represent and teach about genocide itself.
For the month of April, a large banner draped over the Bay Bridge draws the attention of 250,000 drivers to the Armenian Genocide each day. On my commute to work, I asked two passengers in my rideshare if they knew about the Armenian Genocide. Aside from stating that a genocide happened in 1915, neither could tell me what happened, who the Armenians were, or where Armenia is located.
Today's social networks, news websites, and viral videos compete for our attention, inundating us with information. Sometimes they urge us to take action against the plight of others: the Syrian refugee crisis, the mass violence in Myanmar. It can leave us feeling overwhelmed, perhaps as though our small efforts won’t make a difference. Or perhaps we wonder why we should care about an issue so far away. For Americans during the early 20th century, the Armenian Genocide, which began today in 1915, resonated deeply, prompting the largest mass media campaign of its time to save thousands. With the luxury of instant connectivity today, their efforts can remind us just how far-reaching we can be when humanity depends on it.
Topics: Armenian Genocide
Images are an important entry to stories of genocides and mass violence. They provide evidence and context but they can also shock us, jolting us into the immense amount of human suffering that occurred. This is why we must be careful when we prepare lessons for students that touch on such graphic and often difficult-to-absorb topics.
Whether you’re on the beach or preparing your syllabus for fall, check out these nonfiction and fiction titles that have the Facing History and Ourselves Library staff excited for summer reading!
Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Civil Rights Movement, Books, English Language Arts, Poetry, Armenian Genocide, Race and Membership, Holocaust, Memoir, Survivor Testimony, History, Reading, Reading List
I am not Armenian.
I did not grow up learning about the Armenian Genocide.
I attended schools in two of the best public school districts in Southern California and achieved not just an undergraduate degree, but two master's degrees. I had been teaching for several years before I ever learned about the Armenian Genocide.
This month marks 100 years since the start of the Armenian Genocide. This event raises important questions. How do historical events influence our identity and our perception of the "other"? Why do genocides frequently take place under the cover of war? What choices do individuals, groups, and nations have when responding to genocide and other instances of mass violence?
In September 1939, just before the invasion of Poland and the beginning of the Nazi Holocaust, Adolf Hitler asked his generals, “Who today still speaks of the massacre of the Armenians?”