SAN FRANCISCO—More than 200 activists, community members, and supporters attended the Armenian National Committee of America – San Francisco Bay Area (ANCA-SF) chapter’s annual Hye Tad Evening on Saturday, March 1. California State Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian (D-San Fernando Valley) and Armenian Bar Association Chairman Garo Ghazarian headlined the evening’s program. Adam Kablanian, who led the effort to build an endowment to establish the Armenian Studies Program at UC Berkeley, received the organization’s Local Hero Award.
In his opening remarks, ANCA national board member Raffi Hamparian, who served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies, evoked verses from the Battle Hymn of the Republic to honor individuals from a broad cross-section of the community for their tireless efforts for Hye Tad. Recalling memorable lines from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s final public address, Hamparian noted, “Tonight you and I are in the promised land. Among brothers and sister who believe in a cause. Honoring brothers who are – like you – both great Americans and great Armenians.”
Matt Senekeremian, Chairman of ANCA-SF, provided a report on the chapter’s accomplishments over the past year and set forth its plan of activities for the current year, urging all to participate. “Tonight, we are here to not only celebrate the accomplishments of the ANCA, but to reaffirm ourselves to this humanitarian cause” stated Senekeremian. “Thank you again for your commitment to Hye Tad, thank you for your continued support of the ANCA-San Francisco Chapter.”
Professor Stephan Astourian told the story of how he met Adam Kablanian when Astourian was seeking to establish the Armenian Studies Program at UC Berkeley. Astourian explained that while Kablanian is a scientist who started a firm that is now listed on NASDAQ, his intellectual curiosity knows no bounds, and he often attended Astourian lectures at Berkeley. Adam Kablanian accepted the challenge of leading the effort to raise funds for the program, and a few short years later, the goal was met. ANCA-SF recognized this monumental achievement by bestowing Adam Kablanian with its Local Hero Award, which has become a cherished tradition in the community. For his part, Kablanian was humbled in receiving the award and graciously thanked all those who helped – with treasure and toil – to establish, many of whom were in the audience.
Assm. Adrin Nazarian spoke about the importance of civic activism and the impact it can have on the Armenian community living in the diaspora. In his comments, he recalled how the Armenian American community in Glendale, CA gained political power over the course of a few election cycles. By organizing and registering to vote, Armenian Americans witnessed the make-up of Glendale’s five-person city council void of Armenian Americans to Armenian Americans holding a majority on the body. In addition, Armenian Americans won the office of the city clerk, seats on the city’s board of education, and with the election of Paul Krekorian in 2006, the State Assembly District seat that encompasses Glendale. These victories demonstrate the importance of grassroots initiatives like voter registration drives and get out the vote campaigns.
The evening’s keynote speaker, Armenian Bar Association Chairman Garo Ghazarian, gave an eloquent and impassioned address about the importance of seeking justice for crimes committed against the Armenian people. “As Armenian Americans, we have the freedom to seek justice, to have passion for our cause, and to let it seep in our veins,” stated Ghazarian. “The ANCA is on the forefront of seeking justice for the Armenian Cause. All of us together make up the ANCA. Hye Tad is every Armenian’s sword and shield. It is our responsibility, as well as our sanctuary. It is our inheritance paid for by the blood of 1.5 million martyrs.”
A landmark event for the San Francisco Armenian American community, the annual Hye Tad Evening brings together hundreds of individuals who support the local ANCA’s efforts to advance the concerns of the Armenian Americans on a broad range of issues. Past keynote speakers have included former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, former Foreign Minister of Armenia Raffi Hovanissian, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, and the late Hrant Dink. Next year’s Hye Tad Evening is scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 7, 2015.
The Armenian National Committee of America-San Francisco is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.