Astoria will host a commemoration in October to mark the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Indian nationalist Ghadar Party. The political movement, driven by Asian Indians of the U.S. West Coast who wished to free India from British rule, was born during a meeting in Astoria's local Finnish Socialist Hall in May 1913.
The two-day event is scheduled for October 4 and 5, 2013. The program will include film screenings, a panel discussion, and other commemorative activities. Panelists include:
· Dr. Paul Englesberg, educator and researcher on the history of Asian Americans in the Pacific Northwest;
· Ali Kazimi, the Canadian filmmaker and writer who made the movie Continuous Journey about the Sikhs who immigrated to Canada in the early 1900s; and
· Sohan Pooni, who has published numerous articles and spoken extensively on the revolutionary movements to free India from British rule.
Johanna Ogden, author of "Ghadar, Historical Silences, and Notions of Belonging: Early 1900s Punjabis of the Columbia River," is the keynote speaker for the event. Ogden's article, which appeared in Oregon Historical Quarterly in the summer of 2012, is credited with bringing Astoria's role to light as the birthplace of the Ghadar movement—a fact that was largely unknown until the article was published, and sparked the interest of scholars, historians and the public.
When the Astoria City Council was approached with a request to commemorate the Ghadar centennial, it embraced the opportunity to bring forward another piece of the city's diverse immigrant history. An official proclamation was issued in early 2013, and plans went into motion to host the 2-day event. Astoria, the oldest U.S. settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, celebrated the bicentennial of its founding in 2011.