California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced the launch of the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education, Asbares reports.
“The very city of Shushi, from where my grandparents were forced to flee because of Ottoman attacks was attacked just last year [by Turkey] in concert with the Republic of Azerbaijan. So, when we say ‘never again,’ we take a hard stop and mean what it means,” Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian said at the event.
By referencing Azerbaijan’s aggressive attack—aided by Turkey—on Artsakh last year, Nazarian illustrated the importance of education in abetting the end to the cycle of violence, which has gripped the world, as well as emphasizing that unchecked acts of genocide historically have been repeated.
The newly created Council will be tasked with identifying instructional resources and will teach students about the lessons of genocide, and will support students, teachers and families when acts of anti-Semitism or bigotry occur on school campuses.
“We find ourselves in a moment of history where hate pervades the public discourse,” said Newsom. “National surveys have indicated a shocking decline in awareness among young people about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. But in California, we are offering an antidote to the cynicism that this is how things are, and responding to that hate the best way we know how – with education and empathy.”
The creation of the council stemmed from an initiative by State Senator Henry Stern, who marshaled a bill through the California legislature addressing the need for education on the matter. The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region worked closely with Stern and other lawmakers on the passage of the measure.
The Council will be responsible for developing a volunteer speaker’s bureau of individuals that can engage teachers and students in conversation about the lessons of genocide, providing best practices and resources to support schools throughout the state that are dealing with acts of bigotry or discrimination, and hosting educational events and seminars for educators, students and other interested parties, Newsom’s office said.
State Senator Henry Stern and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will be joined by Attorney General Rob Bonta as Co-Chairs of the Council. Also serving on the Council as members are Nazarian, Assemblymembers Jose Medina, James Ramos and Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, and Senators Scott Wiener, Connie Leyva, and Susan Rubio. Based on community feedback, the Council will also include academics, advocates and community organizations reflecting the wide diversity of communities impacted by genocide throughout history, according to the governor’s office.