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?”
Here are four classroom resources you can use in April, or any time of year, to introduce your students to specific moments in world history while encouraging them to consider the behaviors—such as prejudice, stereotyping, and conformity—that contribute to the proliferation of violence today.
Each year, Facing History and Ourselves and Knights and Daughters of Vartan host an annual Armenian Genocide Commemoration Essay Contest. In 2014, the contest asked high school and college students across the United States to respond to the question, “On the threshold of the 100th anniversary, how should the world recognize the Armenian Genocide?” This essay, from Facing History student Elizabeth Ray, took second place. It was reprinted with Elizabeth's permission.
Topics: Student Voices, Online Workshop, Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Facing History Resources, Teaching, Facing History Together, Genocide/Collective Violence, Facing History and Ourselves, Teaching Resources, History
Seventy years ago this fall, the word "genocide" made its debut into the English language, on page 79 of the 674-page Axis Rule in Occupied Europe [which you can find here in Reading 3], in a chapter called "Genocide—A New Term and New Conception for Destruction of Nations."
Topics: Books, Choosing to Participate, Armenian Genocide, Human Rights, Facing History Resources, Teaching, Upstanders, Genocide/Collective Violence, Facing History and Ourselves, Teaching Resources, Video, History