BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
The centenary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide in Southern California cemented the reality that despite our diverse backgrounds, beliefs and convictions, the Armenian-American community can come together and rally around a national issue that is of utmost importance for all Armenians. This type of unity has become commonplace in our community as together we have heeded the calls for assistance to our brave soldiers in Artsakh, to our brothers and sisters in Syria and the needs of our homeland.
The Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee, which was comprised of representatives from the four religious denominations, political parties, charitable and cultural organizations, youth and student movements and educational institutions embarked on a mission in 2014 to not only fittingly commemorate the centennial of the Armenian Genocide but to also advance the rich legacy of the Armenian-American community whose genesis dates back to the 1890s when the Hamidian massacres became a tragic harbinger that set the stage for the Armenian Genocide.
After organizing a series of commemorative events, which culminated in the unprecedented 166,000-strong March for Justice in the streets of Los Angeles, the same organizations launched the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center, which held its inaugural exhibit, Armenia: An Open Wound, this past spring to usher in a new era of cooperation and legacy building that will come to fruition with the construction and opening of the museum in the heart of Glendale.
During the past year, the Armenian American Museum Executive Board has held workshops and town hall meeting to present the plans of the museum to the community and to engage its members in a far-reaching discussion that can define the core of its activities as this project not only will become a showcase for our rich history, traditions and culture, but also a reflection of our heritage as Armenians and Americans.
As the traditional month of Armenian culture comes to an end, the Executive Board has chosen this weekend—October 22 and 23—to reach out to the community at large and present the vision of the Armenian American Museum to our community members and invite them to engage in this unique and critically important project that will have a lasting impact on our community for generations to come. On Sunday, all clergy in all churches across Los Angeles will preach about the plans of the museum, while participating organizations will hold special events throughout the community to openly and transparently present the plans and upcoming fundraising efforts for the museum.
This past summer Governor Jerry Brown signed $1 million into the California State budget for the Armenian American Museum, as a result of efforts spearheaded by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian and Senator Carol Liu with the key support of Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. This signals that the museum is not only a treasure to be cherished by the community but also an institution that can be prized addition to the state’s rich and diverse history.
Just as Armenians came together to build schools, churches, cultural and community centers when our community was still burgeoning, this project provides a the new generation of Armenian-Americans to leave their mark on our national identity and to ensure that Armenians and non-Armenians alike will become part of the growing Armenian tradition.
Once completed, the Armenian American Museum will become an important nexus for our community and will be a singularly unmatched venue that explores the millennia-old history of our nation, as well as the unwavering role Armenians have played in shaping American history and culture.
The Armenian American Museum is sure to become a shining example of our community’s potential to come together and cull our rich traditions and history to build a legacy for not only our community but the Armenian Nation.