Heritage Foundation Inaugural Lecture Takes Place Sept. 23

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BOSTON — The Armenian Heritage Foundation’s K. George and Carolann S. Najarian, MD inaugural lecture on human rights will be held on Thursday, September 23, at 7 p.m., at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall.

Free and open to the public, the endowed lecture is a public program of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, sponsor of Armenian Heritage Park on Boston’s Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

Kerry Kenedy

Kerry Kennedy, the keynote speaker, is a human rights activist and founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Washington, DC. She is the author of Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing Our World.

She has worked on diverse human rights issues such as children’s rights, child labor, disappearances, indigenous land rights, judicial independence, freedom of expression, ethnic violence, impunity and the environment. She has concentrated specifically on women’s rights, exposing injustices and educating audiences about women’s issues, particularly honor killings, sexual slavery, domestic violence,  workplace discrimination, sexual assault, abuse of prisoners and more.

Her life has been devoted to the vindication of equal justice, to the promotion and protection of basic rights and to the preservation of the rule of law. She has led more than 40 human rights delegations across the globe. Her life and lectures are testaments to the commitment to the basic values of human rights. She is the best-selling author of Being Catholic Now, Prominent Americans talk about Change in the Church and the Quest for Meaning. She is the mother of three daughters, Cara, Mariah and Michaela.

Peter Balakian

Opening remarks will be offered by Peter Balakian, Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities, Colgate University, poet and author of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response-A History of International Human Rights and Forgotten Heroes, which was the inspiration for this series. He spoke of the New England women and men — intellectuals, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders and ordinary citizens — who, beginning in the 1890s at Faneuil Hall, heard the eyewitness accounts of the atrocities taking place against the Armenian minority of the

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Ottoman Empire during World War I and were called to action. Distinguished Bostonians, among them Julia Ward Howe, Clara Barton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Alice Stone Blackwell, heard these accounts and were moved to assist the Armenians. As a result, the American Red Cross launched its first international mission with Barton bringing aid to the Armenians. Philanthropists nationwide raised over $100 million in aid. This was America’s first internationally-focused human rights movement.

The inaugural lecture is being offered in partnership with The Bostonian Society, academic institutions and human rights organizations. 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.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick and Mayor Thomas M. Menino are honorary chairs.

Co-chairs of the inaugural lecture representing their participating organization are Martha F. Davis, PhD, faculty director, Northeastern School of Law, Human Rights and the Global Economy; A. Frank Donaghue, CEO and deputy director, Physicians for Human Rights USA; Michael A. Grodin, MD, executive director, Global Lawyers and Physicians Working Together for Human Rights, Boston University School of Public Health; David Hollenbach, SJ, director, Boston College Center for Human Rights and International Justice; Shant Mardirossian, chairman of the Board, Near East Foundation; Margot Stern Strom, founder/executive director, Facing History and Ourselves; Adam Strom, director of research and development, Facing History and Ourselves; Deborah W. Nutter, PhD, senior associate dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University; Balakrishnan Rajagopal, PhD, acting director, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Human Rights and Justice; and Joshua Rubenstein, Northeast regional director, Amnesty International USA.

The Armenian Heritage Foundation’s annual lecture on human rights has been endowed by K. George and Carolann S. Najarian, MD, in honor of her late father, Avedis Abrahamian. In addition to the endowed annual lecture on human rights in partnership with The Bostonian Society, academic institutions and human rights organizations, endowed funds also support the park’s annual care, reconfiguration of the sculpture and public programs.

A gift to the City of Boston and Commonwealth, Armenian Heritage Park celebrates the immigrant experience and commemorates lives lost during the 1915 Armenian Genocide and all genocides that continue to follow. For further information, visit www.ArmenianHeritagePark.net.