GARDEN CITY, NY -- The Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocides were the focus of 1915 and Beyond: A Reflection of Genocides and the Brutality of War, a presentation and art exhibition by Julian McBride at Adelphi University on November 8.
The event explored the historic genocides and their parallels to world massacres and war crimes today through the research McBride has carried out on the subject and in his series of drawings inspired by genocide and his past experience in the United States Marine Corps stationed overseas.
McBride's artwork includes images of Armenian resistance fighters during the Hamidian Massacres, a German woman bombed alive during the firebombing of Dresden, a starved to death Armenian child during the genocide, and a Syrian soldier beheaded by ISIS.
Related: The Assyrian Genocide
While studying at Adelphi University, McBride took an interest in criminal justice and anthropology, under the mentorship of Dr. Stephanie Lake, Prof. Argie Agelarakis, and Dr. Anagnostis Agelarakis. It was under Prof. Argie Agelarakis that McBride not only learned how to draw, but also how to speak publicly.
In February 2017, under the direction of Prof. Argie, McBride created the Reflections of War Initiative (ROW). The mission of the ROW Initiative is to tell the stories of the victims of war, who never have their voices heard since history has always been written by the victors. The slogan of his NGO is "this time, history will be written by the victims." Through artwork, as well as guided, qualitative, and quantitative research, McBride shares the stories of victims of war worldwide.
He told The National Herald in a previous interview, "It's one thing if somebody sees something on TV but odds are they'll ignore it a week later, but if they see art behind it they're going to ask what went on in that story. The whole purpose of art is to tell a story and everyone's going to look at it and think and talk about it and that's my goal to get people to talk about these things that nobody wants to talk about."
McBride noted that "The war in Syria, seeing the Turkish military intervention is bringing up a lot of memories of what happened in Greece and Armenia under Turkish rule."
In learning about his own family history and heritage which is Native American- Cherokee and African-American, he told TNH, that he understands what it is like to see persecution. When asked if young people are more involved in learning about genocide, McBride said he thinks that the younger generation is more involved in learning about many issues today, which is a hopeful sign for the future.
A main focus of the ROW Initiative is Genocide studies, as McBride was motivated to push for recognition of unrecognized genocides through a field school in Crete, Greece, where he saw the graves and memorials of Greeks who were brutally murdered during Ottoman rule and the Nazi occupation. He learned about the Cretan Revolt of 1866 and was surprised that some Greeks he met did not know about the Arkadi Monastery and what happened during the Cretan revolt. They appreciated that his work was shedding light on the history.
Arkadi Monastery played a critical role in the Cretan Revolt of 1866, when 943 Greeks, mostly women and children, sought refuge in the monastery. After three days of battle and under orders from the abbot of the monastery, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender. The monastery became a national sanctuary in honor of the Cretan resistance. The Arkadi Monastery holocaust, as it is known, is commemorated on November 8. Though the explosion did not end the Cretan insurrection, it attracted the attention of the rest of the world including famous figures like French author Victor Hugo who wrote letters to a newspaper in Trieste and Italian general and nationalist Guiseppe Garibaldi who wrote letters praising the Cretans that inspired many philhellenes to go to Crete and join the fight for freedom.
More information about the ROW Initiative is available online at the Row Initiative.