100 years ago today, Asbarez was born in Fresno, California to serve the growing community of Armenia’s in California and the Western US.
In preparing for this special edition of Asbarez, we researched through countless editions of the newspaper, pulled out special publication produced for its various milestone anniversaries and spoke to former editors and staffers.
The conviction with which we begin our second century has not changed much from the days in 1908 when our predecessors set out to create an arena–an Asbarez–for the Armenian-American community. Neither have the challenges in publishing a newspaper for the Armenian community. Despite a wider audience and the latest in technological advances, Asbarez editors are always in pursuit of ensuring that the newspaper is “the people’s paper” as the founding fathers struggled to do. In this edition you will read first-hand accounts of how this newspaper became what it is today, as we, on a daily basis, try to honor the legacy of those who brought forth what is now the only bi-lingual Armenian daily newspaper in the United States.
"The Armenian community in Fresno and surrounding areas is growing. The influx of Armenia’s in the last six to seven years–whether from the Eastern US or all over Armenia to California–has placed Fresno in a unique place." This is how an editorial describing the birth of Asbarez began. If we look at our ever-evolving community in California and elsewhere in the US, we can see that Asbarez is truly at a unique place in the Armenian reality–and has as it has covered the most critical events that have shaped our nation.
From the dispersion that came about as a result of the 1890’s massacres creating one of the oldest Armenian communities in the US, to where hundreds of thousands of Armenia’s call their home today–be they from Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Armenia or elsewhere around the world,–Asbarez has evolved in catering to these generations, for each and every cycle that has defined our community has done so through the pages of this newspaper. And our newspaper, too, has evolved as a result of the changes that have defined our community and our nation.
A group of survivors came together to establish a voice for our community and one hundred years later we continue to provide a forum–an arena–to all those varied backgrounds that make up the unique mosaic of our community–the people who will shape and define it for another or more centuries to come.
Yes, we have covered the Genocide and the first independent Armenian Republic. We have also enabled and empowered a community to rise up from these events and truly lead a movement for the pursuit of our ideals.
Yes, we were there when thousands took to the streets in 1965 to demand the international recognition of the Genocide and similarly when hundreds of thousands marched in Yerevan and Stepanakert to demand the reunification of Karabakh with Armenia in 1988. We have also provided up-to-the-minute reporting from the efforts to pass Genocide recognition resolution, battlefields and the negotiating tables, which have made our readers more aware of the nuances that have shaped our reality today.
Who can forget the gripping images from Leninakan (Gumri) in the aftermath of the devastating 1988 earthquake. By the same token, who can forget the image of the little boy raising the red, blue and orange tri-color after the independence of Armenia in 1991.
The events and issues are too numerous to enumerate, but they have defined us as Armenia’s, and thus given Asbarez the opportunity to serve its readers and truly bridge our struggles, our tragedies, our victories and our aspirations.
Marking this centennial–this milestone–is a proud moment indeed. Remaining your community newspaper–the people’s paper–is powerfully humbling.
So, to our readers: Happy 100th anniversary!